The Old Man and the Sea

Relationship, External Nature and Dignity in The Old Man and The Sea
Man has always suffered his most to achieve his goal. However if one doesn’t experience the danger; will not be prepared to handle his problems. Experience is a part of life which gives man his true identity. Does this identity comes from one’s luck or struggle? Relationships on the other hand interpret strength and dignity. Ernest Hemingway has shown this through Manolin’s behavior. He is a young boy who follows Santiago and listen to his wisdom. If this dignity is eliminated will it effect there relationship? Santiago’s fight with nature symbolizes the troubles of existence. Does this mean that the outer existence is nothing but a perilous world?
Relationship, External nature and Dignity are the major themes in The Old Man and the Sea
A very important relationship in the novella The Old Man and the Sea is that between Manolin and Santiago. Manolin supports Santiago and helped him to confront his greatest challenge. Manolin proves this when he says, “I would like go fishing with you. I would like to serve you in some way” (p. 15). Manolin is the first person who appreciates Santiago’s experience and skills. He wants to be like Santiago and be a skillful fisherman (p.24). Manolin’s concern for Santiago is very significant to their relationship. It keeps the united even after a huge difference in their age. When Santiago returns after loosing his spectacular catch, it’s Manolin who cries at the sight of the wounds “he saw the old man’s hand and started to cry” (p. 122), and vows that he will never allow the old man to fish alone again. Therefore’ Manolin has proven his relationship to Santiago through his moral respect.
The danger confronting Santiago in the external nature represents the troubles of existence. Heminway’s, The Old Man and the Sea represents many meanings to the out side existence. The marlin for example represents struggle, trouble and the last challenge Santiago went through. Santiago’s struggle as a fisherman with marlin also symbolizes durability by putting up such a struggle. Accomplishing or obtaining something doesn’t always end one’s journey. Once Santiago hooked the fish (marlin) he still has further complications (p.57). First, the fish might dive to the bottom and break the line; second, it might die, and sink (p.72). The sharks bring him more trouble afterwards. The cost him to loose his stuff, “He took my harpoon and my rope (p.103). The sharks represent those who tear apart one’s success. Therefore, the external nature is nothing but affliction to the mankind.

Santiago’s dignity as a human being is established by the code of values he loves because he is a fisherman. His last experience as a fisherman gains him his ultimate victory when he goes out and fights nature in the form of terrible creatures, among them, a marlin and sharks. He starts the story in a small skiff and moves out in a journey to capture a fish after a long losing streak of eighty- four days (p. 25). Santiago comes upon a force bigger than his skiff, the marlin that misleads him out past his intended reach (p. 62). Santiago has struggled for three days, which is significant because for three days he continues to fight on though his goal may not acquire anything. But at last his great will power and pride provides him with his greatest victory. Santiago is a man with a great pride and courage. He proves this point through his statement “But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated” (p. 103). This old wrinkled man finally over comes the great force of nature, the marlin by following the code of the fisherman.

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Finally this novella proves Santiago’s profession as a fisherman which leads him to his final perilous experience and his relationship with Manolin .This story has good points, for when it comes to the better parts of the story, it emphasizes by placing in mind step by step of the way Santiago does certain actions. Hemingway has merged three themes already mentioned above successfully unto this book. Among them are Relationship, External Nature, and the code of dignity. The obvious ones are nature; it’s cruelty and compassion. Nature caused pain yet gained him victory, caused him emptiness yet satisfied him, and gave the fish yet reclaimed it. Nature is actually more luck than a set of rules, for it can shift back and forth with the greatest of ease. The code of honor is not actually the hardest to interpret. It can only be pulled from context, which is the hardest to do. It has mainly to do with the rise, battle and fall of the prey and respect following.

The Old Man And The Sea

The Old Man and The Sea The Old Man and The Sea I read this book for the first time in high school and I remembered it just as well as if I had read it yesterday. As I read it again I remembered some of the same language, especially the old man talking to his hands. Cursing his left hand when it cramped up on him like it was a separate part of himself and had a mind of its own was particularly interesting. We can see immediately in the beginning of the book that this old man is in a struggle to catch fish and hasn’t done so for eighty four days. He leaves early on the eighty fifth day and by himself which is important because it defines the journey.

He seems to be the pinnacle of the Hemingway hero, a culmination of a life time of writing that comes together in the portrait of Santiago. He is old, unlucky, humble despite is glorious past of fishing and el champion, trying to do the most he can from his weathered body. He has lived so much that he does not need to dwell on the past events or people he shared it with and is perfectly happy reading about baseball and dreaming about lions on the beach in Africa. The struggle between the marlin is a beautiful depiction of courage and resilience, but I begin to wonder who is hooked into who. The old man and the fish are one and their lives become connected through that line as they live each moment according to the other’s actions.

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Even the old man is not sure who is better, him or the marlin, and he mentions several times they are not that different. And whether or not the sharks ate his fish, it only matters that the old man brought him to the boat and defeated him.


“The Old Man and the Sea” is a heroic tale of mans strength pitted against forces he cannot control. It is a tale about an old Cuban fisherman and his three-day battle with a giant Marlin. Through the use of three prominent themes; friendship, bravery, and Christianity; the “Old Man and the Sea” strives to teach important life lessons to the reader.

The relationship between the old man and the boy is introduced early in the story. They are unlikely companions; one is old and the other young, yet they share an insuperable amount of respect and loyalty for each other. Santiago does not treat Manolin as a young boy but rather as an equal. Age is not a factor in their relationship. Manolin does not even act as a young boy; he is mature and sensitive to Santiago’s feelings. He even offers to go against his parent’s wishes and accompany Santiago on his fishing trips. Santiago is viewed as an outcast in his village because he has not caught any fish for more than eighty-four days and is therefore “unlucky”. Nonetheless Manolin is loyal to Santiago and even when his parents forbid him he wants to help his friend.

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Their conversations are comfortable, like that of two friends who have known each other for their whole lives. When they speak it is usually about baseball or fishing, the two things they have most in common. Their favorite team is the Yankees and Santiago never loses faith in them even when the star player, Joe DiMaggio is injured with a heel spur. In this way Santiago not only teaches Manolin about fishing but also about important characteristics such as faith.
In the story Santiago’s bravery is unsurpassed but it is not until he hooks the “great fish” that we truly see his valor and perseverance. Through Santiago’s actions Hemingway teaches the reader about bravery and perseverance in the face of adversity. He demonstrates that even when all is lost and seems hopeless a willful heart and faith will overcome anything. Santiago had lost his “luckiness” and therefore the respect of his village. Through the description of his cabin we also suspect that Santiago is a widower. Although Santiago has had many troubles he perseveres. He has faith in Manolin, in the Yankees, in Joe DiMaggio, and most importantly in himself. This is perhaps his greatest attribute because without it he would never have had the strength to persevere and defeat the giant Marlin.

Faith is not the only thing that drives his perseverance. Santiago also draws upon his past victories for strength. After he hooked the Marlin he frequently recalled his battle with a native in what he called “the hand game.” It was not just an arm wrestling victory for him it was a reminder of his youthful days. His recollections of this event usually proceeded a favorite dream of his in which he saw many lions on a peaceful shore. These lions represented him when he was young and strong and could overcome any challenge. Although he was an old man and his body was no longer like it used to be his heart was still great and he eventually defeated the Marlin. Santiago’s perseverance and bravery are further illustrated when he tries to fight off the sharks. He was a fisherman all his life and therefore he knew that the fate of his catch was inevitable yet he persisted to fight the sharks. The battle between him and the sharks was about principles not a mere fish. Santiago was still a great warrior at heart and warriors fight until the end.

One of the greatest and most obvious symbolisms in the story is Christianity. From the beginning of the story the reader is shown a unique relationship between Santiago and Manolin. Their relationship parallels that of Christ and his disciples. Manolin is Santiago’s disciple and Santiago teaches Manolin about fishing and life. One of the greatest lessons that Santiago gives is that of a simple faith. “Have faith in the Yankees my son.” This type of faith reflects the basic principles of Christianity.
Hemingway’s description of Santiago further illustrates Christian symbolism. Hemingway gives a reference to the nail-pierced hands of Christ by stating that Santiago’s “hands had deep creased scars.” Hemingway also parallels Santiago’s suffering to that of Christ by stating that “he settled . against the wood and took his suffering as it came.” Even more profound is the description of Santiago’s response when he saw the sharks, “just a noise such a man might make, involuntarily feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood.” Further symbolism is shown when Santiago arrives home and carries the mast across his shoulders as Christ carried the cross to Calvary. Also, like Christ, Santiago could not bare the weight and collapsed on the road. When he finally reached his cabin “he slept face down on the newspapers with his arms out straight and the palms of his hands up.”
Hemingway puts these themes together in such a way that they do not conflict with each other. He does allow Christianity to be a more dominant theme than the other but instead makes it more symbolic than intentional. He does not smother the relationship between the old man and the young boy but instead separates them for a large part of the story. Finally, he does not make Santiago’s bravery a central them by highlighting his weaknesses. In the end the old mans perseverance and faith pay off. He finally gains the respect of the village and succeeds in teaching Manolin the lessons of faith and bravery.


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