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If someone is fortunate enough to acquire a treasure, He is obligated to battle for it until death; but if a man is unlucky enough, he must fight to obtain his possessions till the end. In either situations, the struggle within determines the persons rank, and is given the title of a hero. In “the old man in the sea”, the old Cuban man “Santiago” Is ridiculed by the fact that he hasn’t caught a fish in eighty-four days. The local fishermen in Santiago’s village nickname him “Salao”, or someone who encounters bad luck. Before Santiago sets off on his journey to sea, he orders Manolin, Santiago’s friend and fishing aid, to stay on land. Santiago believes the fishing plague is caused by fallacy. Santiago considers that leaving Manolin will bring him better luck at sea. Sailing out into the open ocean, the old man knows that a big fish is guaranteed. Santiago’s plaque ends when he encounters himself with an enormous Marlin. But his valuable treasure, the Marlin, is destroyed by the sharks. Although Santiago losses his treasure to the sharks, he is considered a hero because he fights bravely till the end.
The symbol of the lion, which is seen several times in Santiago’s dreams, serves to show that he loves them just as much as he loves Manolin. “He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy (Hemingway 32).”Throughout the novel, mainly at the beginning, the lions appear as cubs. The young lions foretell the great things that lie ahead for Santiago, as he embarks on his quest for “the treasure”. When the cubs transform into lions, they imply great power which inspires Santiago to not give up. When Santiago dreams of Manolin, Santiago compels himself to defend the boy of his values. When the old man dreams of Lions, he tends to relax because the lions seem to have control and domination over him. Since the lions appear in the beach, an environment not native to their surroundings, it inclines to show that there is an accord in all of life.
“I would like to take the great DiMaggio fishing, the old man said. They say his father was a fisherman. Maybe he was as poor as we are and would understand (Hemingway 17).” Another frequent figure in the novel is that of Joe DiMaggio, an all-star and hall of fame baseball player for the Yankees. DiMaggio’s bone spur, which might have crippled another player, made him tolerable and mentally strong. Although DiMaggio was Handicap, He never gave up and set out to protect his accomplishments. DiMaggio’s Leadership and fortitude, is what inspires Santiago to protect his treasure without giving up. When Santiago’s hand craps and is left to battle the Marlin with only one hand, Thoughts of surrendering enter his mind. When Santiago reminds himself of the great DiMaggio, he continues to endure what he set off to accomplish. The icon of the legend baseball player serves to symbolize Santiago’s stamina and endurance, despite his awful pain.
[“I have never seen or heard of such a fish. But I must kill him. I am glad we do not have to try to kill the stars.” Imagine if each day a man must try to kill the moon, he thought. The moon runs away. . . . Then he was sorry for the great fish that had nothing to eat and his determination to kill him never relaxed in his sorrow for him. . . . There is no one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behavior and his great dignity. I do not understand these things, he thought. But it is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers (Hemingway 28).]” In the Beginning of the novel, the Marlin is distinguished as a creature from the unknown, a creature that only exists in a place of mystery. When Santiago hooks on to the fish, he is not sure of what he is hooked on to. The fish, witch dwells underneath the surface, pulls Santiago and is left to only imagine what mysteries are left to be revealed on the other end of the line. When Santiago finally gets a glimpse of the fish, when the fish breaks the surface of the water, he is startled and shocked of the fishes’ massiveness. With Santiago’s mysteries revealed, He is left to endeavor with every bit of his strength and power.
“You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more? (Hemingway 98).” Santiago begins to feel pity for the Marlin; witch in his mind believes the fish is exhausted. The demoralizing thought of having to kill the fish, also makes the old man strengthen his way of life. While Santiago fights the Marlin, he develops a relationship and affliction towards the fish. He begins to believe that the fishes’ worthiness is so worthy that it does not matter who kills whom, as long as there is nobility in fighting. Initially the old man was going to use the fish for food, but he realizes that the actual reason for fish is for self-pride.
The main symbol in the novel is the presence of the Marlin. In Christianity the symbol of the fish has many meanings, including the fact that in Jesus’ time in Galilee the main diet consisted of fish. For example, Christ multiplied the two fish and five loaves of bread to feed the people. “Come, follow me … and I will make you fishers of men (Mark 1:17)” Jesus said to his disciples. Santiago uses the marlin as a source of food to bring back to his village in Cuba, but the wicked sharks eat the flesh off the Marlin just leaving the carcass. The sharks symbolize evil, somewhat like the devil. The sharks deprive Santiago from his treasure and leave him with devastation, similar to sin. The image of the skeleton symbolizes Santiago’s triumph over the fish, to show to Manolin and the other fisherman in his village. “…Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:40).” Santiago’s battle with the fish lasts three days; witch is a significant and symbolic number in the bible. There are also three distinctive stages in the battle (the hookup, the battle, and the success over the fish).
“There is no translation for this word and perhaps it is just a noise such as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood (Hemmingway, 107)”. This quote exemplifies that Hemingway uses Santiago as a Christ like figure. Santiago and Jesus are either considered martyrs, or someone who suffers for a cause. Jesus was a martyr because he died for his beliefs; Santiago is a martyr because the sharks rhetorically take away his life. Santiago is Christ like in the way that he carried the burden of his boat on his shoulders back to his cabin, resembling Jesus carrying his cross in Jerusalem. Santiago then lies down with his arms straight out and the palms of his hands, cut up from holding the fishing line, facing up. This image is similar to Jesus’ crucifixion, where Jesus’ hands were nailed to the cross. Like Jesus Santiago full of compassion, determination, and righteousness. The energy of evil is present through the sharks, similar to the evils that were introduced to Jesus in Jerusalem. Both Santiago and Jesus are dishonored and deceived.
The Main quote in the story unquestionably is “Man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated (Hemmingway, 103).” This quote captures the actual essence of the novel. Without a doubt, Santiago was destroyed but not defeated. Some might dispute that the old man was defeated as it states in the book “they beat me Manolin they truly beat me (Hemingway 112), nevertheless the old man was defeated physically but not spiritually. Like Jesus, Santiago kept his Faith, courage, and perseverance even when he was physically destroyed. Santiago is a man that should be respected and honored for the sacrifices he demonstrates.
Even though Santiago has numerous troubles he persists. He has a strong faith in Manolin, the great Joe DiMaggio, and most significantly within himself. This is possibly his greatest quality and characteristic because without it he would never have had the potency to persevere and overcome the evil sharks. In the novel Santiago’s courage is untouchable, however it is not until he hooks onto the “big fish” that we really see his courage and persistence.
SparkNotes: The Old Man and the Sea: Day One. Web. 29 Apr 2010. <http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/oldman/section1.rhtml>.
Ernest Hemingway Quotes. Web. 29 Apr 2010. <http://classiclit.about.com/od/hemingwayernest/a/aa_ehemingquote.htm>.
http://rds.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0geu5TCxdhLFhgBbq5XNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTByZDQ4OGhzBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDOQRjb2xvA2FjMgR2dGlkAw–/SIG=13gum525d/EXP=1272584002/**http%3a//members.lycos.nl/fdhsaertgae/a-life-ldf/a-man-can-be-destroyed-but-not-defeated-.html. Web. 29 Apr 2010. <http://rds.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0geu5TCxdhLFhgBbq5XNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTByZDQ4OGhzBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDOQRjb2xvA2FjMgR2dGlkAw–/SIG=13gum525d/EXP=1272584002/**http%3a//members.lycos.nl/fdhsaertgae/a-life-ldf/a-man-can-be-destroyed-but-not-defeated-.html>.
CHRISTIAN SYMBOLS: THE FISH (ICHTHUS, ICTUS), CROSS AND CRUCIFIX. Web. 29 Apr 2010. <http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_symb.htm>.
Studyworld Studynotes: Old Man and the Sea, The: Summary: Points to Ponder. Web. 29 Apr 2010. <http://www.studyworld.com/studyworld_studynotes/jnotes/OldManandtheSeaThe/PointstoPonder.html>.
The Old Man and the Sea – SYMBOLISM / MOTIFS / IMAGERY / SYMBOLS. Web. 29 Apr 2010. <http://www.pinkmonkey.com/booknotes/monkeynotes/pmOldMan41.asp>.
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