The Old Man And The Sea
by Ernest Hemingway The "Old Man and the Sea" has proved itself to be one of the enduring works of American fiction. It is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, Santiago, and his supreme ordeal: a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. It merges three themes: nature, religion, and a Code of Honor. The story begins in a small skiff, at the time he faces a harsh fight with nature; hunger and danger of the sea. He manages to fight off his hunger by getting a few bites in the form of flying fish and a dolphin. He conquers danger by fighting a fish of enormous power; a marlin. This is a harsh part of the story and tells of a cold and harsh sea, that is, one that has value and mystery as well as death and danger. It is dark and treacherous and every day there is a challenge. A similar story tells about a tidal pool with life called 'Cannery Road'. This second theme of the story deals with religion. It mainly deals with Santiago as being compared to Christ and other characters as props to carry out some biblical themes. Santiago comes upon a force bigger than his skiff, the marlin, which misleads him beyond his intended reach. This is where he starts to lose his strength against something which seems to be a greater force. Santiago struggles for three days, which is significant because of the three days in Easter. He continues to fight, even though his goal may not be achieved. This is another idea which is biblical in tone; the hardships that Christ endured to reach his goal, even though it meant certain destruction for himself. Finally Santiago has a painful experience with his hand which is in great pain and won't move. This is comparable to Christ losing his physical self. On the third day, he recovers himself and returns to his home even though his only remaining treasure was a broken skiff, experience, and a torn up marlin. In the end, you can see him dragging the mast of his skiff, a cross-like object.. This story has a certain sequence of events; the encounter, the battle, the defeat and the respect for the prey. The novel also deals with relationships between Santiago and Manolin, and Santiago and his village Manolin is a small person that follows Santiago and listens to his wisdom. They treat each other unfriendly though for Manolin calls Santiago 'old man' and he calls Manolin 'boy'. Santiago's relationship with the village is one where he, the old man, is trying to prove that he is still useful. He is waiting to show his greatness to the village by catching a great fish and not just during the easy season but during the hard season when no one else would venture out to sea. Hemingway's strength of writing is the vocabulary that he uses. He probably learned these fisherman terms for he once was a fisherman in
. Some vocabulary he uses stands for sharks or the sea itself. Others he uses represent the bait. The main idea though in this part is to let the reader get the feel for the life, setting and character of the fisherman himself. Hemingway has merged three themes already mentioned above successfully unto this book. Among them are figures of Christ, Nature (the sea), and a code of honor. This was challenging. The obvious ones were nature, it's cruelty and compassion. Nature caused his hand pain yet healed it, caused hunger yet satisfied it, and gave the fish yet reclaimed it. This is the way nature works. Nature is actually more luck than a set of rules, for it can shift back and forth with the greatest of ease. The second theme, religion, could not be easily pulled from the text. The best clue to where it happens is the falls of Santiago as well as his carrying the mast. This symbolizes the end of Christ, although Santiago on the other hand is just retiring for the night. But it could be interpreted as the end of the book for which it is. The code of honor is probably the hardest to interpret. It can only be pulled from context. It has mainly to do with the rise, battle and fall of the prey and respect following.