The Old Man and the Sea Themes

May 19, 2020 by Essay Writer

In The Old Man and the Sea the author, Ernest Hemingway, uses methods of characterization and point of view in order to help the reader better understand the story’s characters. In this novela, the old man, Santiago, and the boy, Manolin, have an inseparable friendship. Even with Santiago growing older each day Manolin still treats him like the greatest fisherman alive, and serves him with whatever he needs. In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway uses Santiago’s thoughts and Manolin’s actions to introduce and develop their characters throughout the story.

The thoughts of Santiago in this story show his unwillingness to accept defeat even in his darkest moments out on the treacherous sea. As Santiago is at a constant battle with the Marlin and in his worst state physically he thinks to himself, a man can be destroyed but not defeated (93). Destruction means to completely ruin or spoil. Throughout the novel Santiago has experienced destruction from day one. He starts off with not catching a fish for 84 consecutive days, but he never stopped returning to the sea everyday. He continued to be unsuccessful each day, but his spirit and pride prevented him from accepting defeat. Even in the fight with the Marlin he had the choice to spare his life and let the fish go, or continue his fight and reel the fish in. The choice that Santiago made displays the type of man he is and his unwillingness to give up even in the face of death. As the old man continues his battle with the marlin he begins to think about nature and the marlins feelings. As he plunges deep into thought he thinks, besides, he thought, everything kills everything else in some way. Fishing kills me exactly as it keeps me alive (48). Santiago knows that he is becoming older and fishing is not as easy as it used to be in his younger days. The reason that Santiago is still a fisherman, even at his age, is because he wants to feel important.

The old man wants to feel as if he has a place in society and he isn’t just a waste of space. Hemingway gives the reader Santiago’s thoughts in order to show his strong pride and determination even when his physical state has been depleted over and over again. Ernest Hemingway uses Manolin’s actions to show his willingness to always help Santiago, and also his gratitude towards the old man for teaching him how to fish. Manolin would always watch, the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around the mass (1). Santiago was the man who taught Manolin how to fish at the age of five years old. Ever since then Santiago and Manolin have had a very close friendship because fishing in their society is a way of life and survival. By teaching Manolin how to fish Santiago taught him how to care for himself and survive, so now Manolin is the one helping the old man. Manolin’s parents have forbidden him from fishing with the old man because of his terrible luck.

However, this has not stopped Manolin from helping the old man unload his gear everyday and returning to Santiago’s hut to make sure he has eaten and drunk. In addition to helping Santiago unload everyday, Manolin is always eager to help the old man in any way possible. One night in Santiago’s hut Manolin says to him, ‘can I go out to get sardines for you for tomorrow?’ ‘No. Go and play baseball. I can still row and Rogelio will throw the net.’ ‘I would like to go. If I cannot fish with you. I would like to serve in some way’ (12). A very important reason for Manolin serving Santiago is that he wants to remind the old man he is the greatest fisherman alive. Manolin does not help Santiago because he pities him and thinks he cannot do the tasks himself. He helps Santiago because he feels he owes him a debt for teaching him how to fish all those years ago. Santiago helped the boy when he was younger, so now the boy is helping Santiago as a way to repay him and show gratitude. The actions of Manolin are used to show gratitude towards Santiago for teaching him how to fish, and his willingness to always help the old man.

Ernest Hemingway used the third person omniscient point of view in The Old Man and the Sea in order to give the reader more insight on the character of Santiago. In using this point of view a narrator tells the story almost as if they are on the outside looking in, and the reader is able to gain knowledge on Manolin and Santiago’s thoughts. Through the thoughts of Manolin the reader is able to better understand the character of Santiago. One night when the boy was in Santiago’s hut he thought to himself, where did you wash? The boy thought. The village water supply was two streets down the road. I must have water here for him, the boy thought, and soap and a goo towel. Why am I so thoughtless? I must get him another shirt and a jacket for the winter and some sort of shoes and another blanket (21). The narrator chose to give us these thoughts of Manolin, so the reader can view Santiago from another character’s perspective.

The thoughts of Manolin reveal Santiago’s character as someone Manolin cares deeply about. He views Santiago as a fragile man and he believes he needs to take care of him, hence the blankets, soap, and water. The third person omniscient point of view was used to help the reader better understand the character of Santiago. In conclusion, Ernest Hemingway uses the methods of point of view and characterization to better develop the characters in the story, The Old Man and the Sea. In, The Old Man and the Sea, the author uses Manolin’s actions and Santiago’s thoughts to develop and show the growth of their characters as the story unfolds. In this novela, Manolin takes care of Santiago because of their inseparable friendship. When Manolin was just five years old Santiago brought him out onto a boat and taught him how to fish. This skill, in their society, is very valuable and Manolin feels he owes Santiago a great debt for teaching him how to fish. This novel teaches the reader that a man’s pride and strength can carry him through any physical pain that might be thrown at him, and the accomplishment at the end will be greater than the challenge.

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