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“The Old Man and the Sea” Analysis

In Hemingway’s book “The Old Man and the Sea,” Santiago demonstrates heroism, determination and respect for nature. To single-handedly take on a 1500-pound fish on a small boat in the middle of the ocean is the act of a hero. Santiago’s heroism is emphasized because his boat is less than ideal for the task ahead. Hemingway advises the reader just how unsuitable the older man’s boat is for the challenges that lie ahead. The older man’s sail was patched up with flour sacks, making him even more of a hero as he had a poorly equipped boat. (9) Santiago shows determination by allowing the marlin to pull him for hours to defeat the fish. He never lets down his guard, and he fights with consistent strength during his fateful fishing expedition.

The older man is prepared to stay with the marlin until he kills the fish. (75) Santiago’s love and respect for nature is a key part of his personality, and it surfaces throughout the story. Hemingway writes how Santiago sees the sea as something feminine and as something that gave or withheld assistance. (30) Santiago has respect for his enemy, the marlin. He reflects on how wonderful and strange the marlin is wondered how old the fish is. (48) When Santiago thinks, “there is no sense in being anything but practical,” it makes perfect sense to consider what type of person the old man is. He is a survivor. After thinking that he should be practical, the old man immediately goes on to say that he wished he had some salt to preserve the fish. (59) He also mentions that he should eat it anyway, presumably to stay alive. (59) The old man is independent and asks for no one’s help.

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He can make do with the supplies that he has. On the boat, while he is fighting the fish, he exists with limited food and drinks. (65) The fact that he copes with what he has proves that he is practical. While battling the marlin, he always keeps his main goal in mind and works out new ways to get through the tough situations. . When you consider the character that Hemingway created for Santiago, it is hard to think of him as not practical. Hemingway presents a series of shark attacks in a different manner to give pacing to the story and focus on the theme of man versus nature. The series of shark attacks also allows the author to reinforce the determination of Santiago’s character and, at the same time, show the despair of having his prize marlin gradually eaten in the series of attacks.

He had predicted that the sharks would come. (68) During one attack of galagos, Santiago shows ingenuity by strapping a knife to an oar and loses one-quarter of the marlin. In another attack, his knife blade breaks. (101) In the next attack, he uses his oar as a club to injure them. Finally, the galanos come in a pack and eat the remainder of the marlin. (118-119) Hemingway designed his plot in this manner to make the story more interesting. If Santiago had caught the marlin and sailed back home a hero, it would have been just another adventure tale. Instead, by introducing the series of shark attacks, Hemingway shows Santiago going from “riches to rags,” refusing to cave in to despair. Even when he knew he was beaten, he accepted it gracefully. (119) This shows the reader that you can be a hero even if you lose a battle.

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When Santiago says aloud, “A man can be destroyed but not defeated,” he demonstrates his heroism and determination. For example, Santiago fights the big fish for days, hoping that the marlin will become exhausted as it pulls the boat. (74) Hemingway uses powerful imagery to portray the strength of the marlin when he says that the fish jumped, making a great bursting of the ocean. (82) In describing the marlin as being huge, two feet longer than the boat, (63) it shows the reader just how heroic Santiago is in challenging this creature. When the fish tires, both the hunter and the hunted are exhausted, and Santiago again shows his courage by fighting sharks. (101) Armed only with a knife, he fights sharks that have come to eat his captured marlin. Santiago had predicted that sharks would try to scavenge his catch, but he stood up to them. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated” are not the words of a coward.

The story has a happy ending. It is a classic story of human endurance. Hemingway presents the old man as an archetype of a quiet hero. Santiago is someone who rises to a challenge late in life and beats overwhelming odds. He proves that he is brave, strong-minded and a lover of nature throughout the book. In this short time span during which the story takes place, we see the ultimate battle of man versus nature. Even though Santiago loses the fish to sharks (119), in losing the battle he wins the war. His experiences have allowed him to win back his own confidence and self-respect. The book has a happy ending because, through Santiago, it demonstrates that gaining respect for oneself (124) is as important as gaining the respect of others.

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"The Old Man and the Sea" Analysis. (2021, Aug 13). Retrieved August 14, 2022, from