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Hemingway's The Old Man And The Sea

1784 words - 8 pages

On the surface, The Old Man and the Sea is the story of an old man trying to catch fish to save himself from poverty, but under the surface are many underlying messages and themes. The setting is in Cuba, in an impoverished fishing village. The old man, Santiago, is a well-seasoned fisherman who takes a young boy, Manolin, under his wing. He has not caught a fish in 84 days and has been relying on the help of others from the village. In, The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway conveys his opinions and his own life through themes and symbolism in the book. Hemingway conveys his idea of success, his view of the artist, free will, and individualism.
Hemingway’s view of success is different than most others. Santiago was defeated by the sharks and lost his marlin. Tourists even mistake the skeleton for one of a shark. The head, which is the only thing left, will be used as bait. Santiago gets no money or food from the fish. He does not receive any material gain from his grueling three day fight with the marlin (Gale). “It appears that the old man has been beaten, but the reality is that he has remained undefeated in his struggle against himself, his exhaustion, and the temptation to abandon the fight” (Pazos). As Manolin tells Santiago, “He didn't beat you. Not the fish” (Hemingway 124). Santiago pushed through till the end and did all he could to keep away the sharks. He did not give in to the temptation of cutting the line and giving up (Pazos). Hemingway shows that success is not always measured in material gain, but in personal gain. The old man tells himself, “You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food...You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman” (Hemingway 105). Santiago does not get the $300 he was hoping for, but he can still be proud that he caught the marlin.
In Hemingway’s eyes, an artist is someone who perfects their work through painstaking labor and expert techniques. Santiago is, “an immaculate practitioner of his profession” (Bharadwaj and Bhuyan). He refuses a fancy fishing boat and other new technologies of the industry. “...the younger fishermen...used buoys as floats for their lines and had motorboats” (Hemingway 29). Even though this younger generation thinks he is silly for doing the extra work, Santiago refuses to take the easy way out. “They sat on the Terrace and many of the fishermen made fun of the old man...” (Hemingway 11). Santiago fishes how he has always done it, even though it is harder and more time consuming. He uses many “tricks” that he has learned along the way to attain accuracy and mastery of his craft. “Santiago emerges as a master craftsman commanding his art” ( Bharadwaj and Bhuyan). Hemingway compares the work that Santiago puts into his art of fishing to the work that he puts into his writing. Hemingway worked hard his entire life to accomplish expertise in his field. He finally achieves just this when he writes The Old Man and the Sea. It is said that “Mr. Hemingway...

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