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In the book, “The Old Man and the Sea,” the author, Ernest Hemingway establishes several ideals concerning life. The author endeavors to unveil hidden secrets of how people should view the world and how they are supposed to live their lives including handling the people who hang around them in life. These ideas are exhibited in the way the old man loves baseball and the idol Joe DiMaggio (Hemingway, pp. 10-127). Moreover, this element is also shown in the way the old man struggles with the fish, the way he relates with the young lad, Manolin, the respect the lad has for the old man as well as the comparison that is evident between Jesus and the old man are principles that Hemingway includes in the book. Apparently, Hemingway utilized the journey of the old man throughout the story to demonstrate the tangible heroes in the world (Handy, p.62).
Hemingway clearly gives a picture of fame and achievement in the society. There is an exemplary characterization in the book that defines heroes in life. Basically, Hemingway draws heroes from the characters presented as hardworking and the people who do the right things. Apparently, Hemingway does not believe that the DiMaggio’s are not capable doing of the important things in life when compared to people like Santiago. The trip taken by Santiago is a resemblance to life and how people should live it. Goals act as drives in life for every person. Where there are no set goals, it is unlikely that there will be any achievement to come out of that (Robert, pp.188-192). Therefore, Santiago was supposed to catch up with the marlin. The marlin was his main objective because of its great size and also due to the respect he had for the fish and the determination in it.
The first pages of the book expose the character of Santiago and set the scene ready for the action that follows later. Even though he admires Manolin and the boy reciprocates the love, the old man lives the life of an outsider. The greeting the old man receives from the fishermen shows clearly that Santiago is alienated from the society. Most of the fishermen mock him for his unsuccessful voyages. This kind of alienation characterizes the author’s heroes. The greatest achievements of Hemingway’s heroes relied mainly on the alienation they got within the society. Apparently, Hemingway shows that a man can only confront the universal, large truths that govern him when he has been removed from the false and numbing confines of the contemporary society (Hemingway, pp. 10-127).
The message put forward by Hemingway in the book is tragic in a number of ways. The story of Santiago and the destruction that came upon his huge catch is a very significant aspect. Santiago does not show any defeat through his enlightenment. Hemingway focuses on the perseverance of Santiago in the first pages of the book. He mentions that the eyes of the old man were still undefeated and cheerful after wallowing in suffering for about three months unsuccessfully while fishing. Even though Santiago struggles a lot to a point where any human being would succumb to defeat, Santiago has always emerged as a winner. This is more evident as Santiago tells the boy that he will succeed despite the odds by going further than the limits of the other fishermen (Robert, pp.188-192).
In this book, the protagonist who is Santiago is lifted above the normal expected stature. Santiago assumes near-mythical proportions. The protagonist belongs to the convention of literary heroes with many superior qualities. These qualities necessitate the distance of the heroes from ordinary endeavors and other humans. Since Manolin continually expresses his own reverence for, trust of and devotion to Santiago, he establishes his personal mentor as a stature of fundamental moral and professional figure, despite the odds of the previous eighty-four days (Hemingway, pp. 10-127). While the other young fishermen ridicule the old man, Manolin knows the true value and the extent of Santiago’s skill and knowledge. Hemingway provides a model of simple living and goodness to the reader. This is more evident as Santiago is found to overcome the world evils like poverty, hunger and the contemptuous nature of his fellow men. Santiago endures all the evil that befalls him (Bloom, pp. 12-23).
In the initial scenes, Hemingway makes an introduction to a number of images and issues that will take place all through the book. Initially, Hemingway presents issues about the endurance on Santiago. The descriptions given about his crude hut, the almost fictional habits of eating and the emaciated body trigger a lot of questions in the mind of the reader concerning the physical capacities of the old man (Robert, pp.188-192). The reader would certainly wonder how Santiago could wage the terrific fights with the huge marlin as recounted by the novel. Santiago survives on occasional handouts from kind owners of cafe together with worse imaginary meals. Along the book, the questions in the mind of reader become irrelevant. Even though Santiago’s fight is played out in terms physical, the stakes are determinedly spiritual. The above section introduces two significant symbols of the lions playing on the African beaches and the baseball’s immortal Joe DiMaggio. All through this trial, the thoughts of Santiago will go back to DiMaggio because the player of baseball is a significant triumphant survival to him (Hemingway, pp. 10-127). After going through suffering in his hell, DiMaggio went back to baseball to become the most successful player of all times as perceived by many people. Hemingway says that they are the only remaining dream of Santiago.
While Santiago gets started on the eighty-fifth day, the reader sees the qualities that give him the dedication and praise of Manolin. The old man is an expert in matters of the sea. He can read the sky, the sea and their respective creatures such as books that provide information for him to know what surrounds him. The author uses natural occurrences to guide the old man’s way of life and decision making. For instance, the lying fish is an indication of the arrival of the dolphins. On the other hand, the experience of Santiago and the magnificent tug on his line has only one implication: a marlin which is a kind of huge game fish that is very heavy weighing about several pounds. Unlike the other fishermen, Santiago passes through his own way into very deep waters of the gulf. He takes on unparalleled precision during fishing. Santiago keeps his lines perfectly straight rather than allowing them drift as is the norm with other fishermen. This means that he was conversant with how deep they are. The focus of Santiago, his resolve amidst tremendous obstacles and his strength coupled with his sheer artistry which he uses to work out his tasks distinguish him as a hero (Robert, pp.188-192).
Santiago conforms to the classical hero model into two significant aspects. For one, he shows a calm determination in understanding the universe. His meditation on the benevolence and beauty of the sea shows a distinguishing character in him. The old man however has a heartbreaking flaw that will certainly lead the way to his downfall. Santiago is proud and this takes him far both literally and metaphorically (Bloom, pp. 12-23). He goes beyond the other fishermen into beauty although in the end takes him to very lousy cruel waters. Just like in classical epics, the most significant struggle in the author’s novella is a moral one. The fish on its own is of a secondary significance because it is just a trophy and/or a material prize.
All the same, some readers could criticize Hemingway’s depiction of the protagonist since it betrays the very principles of fiction that the author stipulated. Initially, Hemingway was a proponent of realism (Taylor, p.638). He had wishes to strip ornamentation and pretense out of literature. He ultimately built a character as a journalistic writer who appreciated hard facts above every other thing. Lofty philosophizing and metaphysical meditations in this book have little interest for Hemingway when this is compared to the details of everyday life. When compared to his other works, this appears to be very much evident. He states in A Farewell to Arms, thatabstract words like courage, honor and glory were obscene beside the very solid names of villages, the names of rivers, the number of roads, and the number of divisions and the dates.
Hemingway fails to render the protagonist and the sea realistically. Hemingway apparently has forged certain details that are simply not true. For instance, the poisonous Portuguese man-of-war who follows the boat of Santiago would not be seen in the waters off of Cuba for yet another period of six months (Jobes, pp. 34-56). A more important, less petty opposition that can emerge is the charge that Hemingway reduces the old man to an archetype of purity and goodness that is unrealistic while the surrounding universe is marked through the brotherhood and romance of a man with the sea together with its various creatures.
It would be correct to say that Hemingway was striking out into an emerging territory of literature with The Old Man and the Sea. The foremost proponent of realism of America apparently was moving towards something which was comparable to a parable in symbolic terms. The memory of the old man to hook the female marlin at some point shows the world vision of Hemingway which is apparently a world where women have no authentic place. Moreover, the picture of the wife to Santiago does not remain in his wall all through. The focus of this book like in many others Hemingway has done in the past is on men alone. Hemingway gives little attention to women. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that Santiago is truly convinced that his greatest enemy is a male (Robert, pp.188-192). This is a fact that the old man could not ascertain before he had seen the fish.
Hemingway tells the reader that Santiago does not talk of the hawks that anticipate the little warbler since he thinks the bird will soon learn bout them. Hemingway angers the grimness of the observation of Santiago with his deep connection feeling with the bird. He suggests that the universe is a vast network of life that is interconnected despite the manner in which it is designed to cause death. Moreover, the exhaustion feeling and the ultimate fate of the bird shows a reflection of the ultimate personal exhaustion of Santiago and the ravishment of marlin by the sharks. The brotherhood that exits between the surrounding world and Santiago goes beyond the bird. The old man has a feeling of an ultimate link to the huge fish together with the stars and the sea. Santiago continually pledges his respect, brotherhood sentiment and love to the marlin (Hemingway, pp. 10-127). Due to this, the death of the fish is not seen as a senselessly tragic. Santiago and apparently Hemingway have a feeling that because death should be realized in the world, it is most preferable that it landed at the hands of an able opponent. The magnificence of the old man that shows humility and honor with which he carries out his task of elevating his fight back to a rarified goes past that level.
The skills that became part of the great displays of vigor captured the imagination of Hemingway. Hemingway’s fiction is full of big-game hunters, soldiers, bullfighters, fishermen and prizefighters. The fiction by Hemingway presents an exclusively male populated world. It appears as though men live most effectively in the universe through skill displays. In the world of Hemingway, surviving alone cannot suffice in life (Jobes, pp. 34-56). To elevate ourselves above the masses, an individual should master the rituals and rules through which men are judged. Occasionally, Santiago displays the rituals and the art that make him a real master of his trade. His lines do not drift in a careless manner in the current. He is able to brave the waters far off from the shoe of the sea.
Rituals and rules dominate the entire life of the old man. When the old man is not thinking about fishing, his mind reverts to baseball or religion. Since Santiago makes a decclaration that he is not a religious person, the prayers he make to the Virgin of Cobre appear to be less an appeal to the spiritual intervention and more so a dwelling that provides and orders a context for his everyday encounter (Taylor, p.638). In the same manner, the worship of Joe DiMaggio by Santiago and his ceaseless comparisons between himself and the baseball greatest give a suggestion that his preferences are for places where men are valued through pre-determined standards. The reputation of DiMaggio is secured through his exceptional batting average as indisputably as the will of Santiago be through an eighteen-foot marlin (Robert, pp.188-192).
Despite the fact that Santiago does not consider himself a man who is so much into religion, it is at the time of his fight with the marlin that the books seems to have some strong predisposition to a Christian parable. Santiago becomes more like Christ when the struggles intensify. Through his suffering, pain and the ultimate defeat, Santiago transcends his former incarnation as an unsuccessful fisherman. Hemingway attains this effect through the reliance on the potent and to a lot of readers, familiar symbolism that is identifiable with the life and death of Jesus Christ. The cuts on the hands of the old man which he got from the fishing line recollect the stigmata of the wounds that Jesus suffered during crucifixion. The isolation of Santiago also relates closely with that of Jesus Christ who spent forty days solely in the wilderness. Santiago goes beyond the societal fringes after he takes his boat out on the ocean at a distance more than what other fishermen have advanced (Bloom, pp. 12-23).
Hemingway brings the old man and the marlin together through the frequent expression by Santiago about his kinship feelings (Jobes, pp. 34-56). The suggestion that is evident here is that, the fate of one individual affects the other. Even though Santiago and marlin are opponents, they are also allies, partners and in some way, doubles. Santiago’s expletive that is Christ and the congratulatory phrase “his greatness and his glory” connect the fate of the fish to Christ. Since Santiago says that marlin is a true brother, he means that they have a common fate. Later in the book, sharks attack the carcass of marlin and later attacking Santiago. This shows that the alliance sense between the fish and the old man is very much explicit.
The fantastical last stage of the battle of the old man and the fish reveal two main thematic issues vividly to the forefront. At this point, Hemingway presents the theme of the place of man in nature and the theme of nature by itself. It is very possible to interpret the journey of Santiago as an instructive tale of some kind. It is a tragic lesson concerning the things that take place when the pride in an individual forces him to stay beyond the boundaries of his lawful, place in the universe (Robert, pp.188-192). This kind of interpretation is destabilized. This has been undermined through the fact that Santiago gets the place where he is most absolutely, honestly and entirely himself only going further than he has done in the past. Actually, Santiago has not abandoned his real place. This is a suggestion that the greatest potential of a man can be realized in his return to the ordinary universe from which contemporary developments have taken him (Baker, pp. 23-41).
At some point, Santiago embraces the unity with marlin. This occurrence talks much about the natural world theory of the novella. While the exhausting and near-endless fight of Santiago with the marlin emerges, his is a world in which life goes hand in hand with doom. All things in the universe should die and as Santiago puts it, it is only the brotherhood that exists between them or other creatures that can lessen the grimness of this hard truth. The marlin’s death serves as a fascinating case in point because as the fish passes on, it is both transformed into a larger thing and at the same time charged with life. In the conception of Hemingway concerning the natural world, beauty is actually deadly, age is strength by itself and the death is the biggest instance of importance (Jobes, pp. 34-56). The fish’s transformation in death acts as an anticipation of the transformation that the Santiago stands in line waiting for in the final stages of the novella. The battle of the old man with the fish is determined by suffering and supreme pain although he lives in an environment full of extreme suffering where it can turn out to be a factor of victory instead of defeat.
The key to the triumph of Santiago is like the endurance of a martyr. This is a quality that the old man has and values so much. Santiago over and again reminds himself that the pain that is taking place in the physical is insignificant and he keeps his head clear and he is ready to suffer like a man (Hemingway, pp. 10-127). When the shark arrives, Santiago has a preoccupation of hope within him. Hope comes out clearly as an important aspect of endurance. The evidence is so much that the novella appears to make a suggestion that endurance can be seen in places where hope and pain meet. While Santiago sails on as the sharks keep on attacking his catch, Hemingway says that Santiago had a lot of resolution but with little hope. The Old Man and the Sea is a dramatic development in the career of Hemingway since the sober hope of Santiago strikes a kind of compromise in between youthful naivety and age jadedness (Jobes, pp. 34-56).
Considering the depth of this tragedy that befell Santiago, it is most unlikely that Santiago will get an opportunity to go fishing and get another catch in his lifetime. All the same, The Old Man and the Sea culminates into an optimistic note. Santiago is brought in unity together with Manolin who is in desperate need of finishing his training. The noble qualities of the old man are likely to be inherited by the boy and therefore the life of the fisherman will continue even after he dies (Taylor, p.638). The promise of regeneration and triumph is supported through the closing image that the book presents.