Revealing the Character of Santiago, in Hemingway’s “the Old Man and the Sea”

Topics: The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway, Man Pages: 5 (2031 words) Published: May 13, 2011
Revealing the Character of Santiago,
In Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”
Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” illustrates the love an old fisherman has for a boy, and the sacrifice he is willing to make for him to become his fishing partner. John Clark Pratt, in his peer article, “My Pilgrimage: Fishing for Religion with Hemingway,” has done research that tells us, “Santiago’s name refers to St. James, who is the great fisherman also considered by some religions to be the brother of Christ, and he appears both as a God and a father figure to the boy Manolin.” (Pratt 91). I will therefore expound first on Santiago’s character, and then, his courage and love, and illustrate how his preservance on the sea in battle with a great Marlin was a type of the cross of Christ and ultimately depicted who Santiago was. One can see the spirit of love in this old man through the description of his eyes. Captain Gregorio Fuentes, the Cuban fisherman (whom some believe was the inspiration for Ernest Hemingway’s novel), fits that description. The 1 May article of 2002, read, “The Old Man and the Sea, has died in his home in Cuba.” (Fly Fisherman). Also, possibly relevant to this old fisherman, was the line quoted from Hemingway’s novel, “Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated, . . .” (Hemingway 10). The article continued to read, “The Cuban fisherman who in his book battles an enormous Marlin on a hand line for three days, may have been this seaman who inspired Hemingway to write ‘The Old Man and the Sea,’ novel.” (Fly Fisherman). Hemingway definitely captures the character of this fisherman, painting a picture of joy, and a positive attitude. The eyes being an allusion of his soul, like the sea, only reflect the surface of the waters of his soul. The depth of his life’s experiences, are deeper than anyone could search out by observation, as Hemingway also expresses when he says, “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.” (Hemingway 25). Hemingway thus concludes that no one really knew the ability, or the culmination of victories he had achieved in his life. Santiago hung onto the big fish for almost three days because he was not a quiter, and would not allow the voice of his flesh to hinder him in his “fight to the end.” Perhaps this is why Santiago enjoyed listening to baseball on the radio so much. He realized and related to the intensity of the game, and the effort involved with “winning.” At one point he said, “But I think the great DiMaggio would be proud of me today.” (97). Though he loved the game, he probably related more to the fact that DeMaggio’s father was also a fisherman. Concerning his career as a fisherman he once stated, “But that was the thing that I was born for.” (50). There was no doubt that he was the best teacher for the boy, and took pride in the fact that he “had taught the boy to fish and the boy loved him.” (Hemingway 10). Manolin’s parents had disallowed their son to continue fishing with Santiago because he had caught no fish in 84 days. Therefore, Santiago needed the boy and his parents to know his capability—that he was the best of fishermen, and worthy to teach their son the ways of the sea. Yet their son was growing up, and his connection with Santiago seemed almost equal in time spent. The old man needed the companionship he had with the boy, and their comradery is seen when the boy asks Santiago, “Can I offer you a beer . . . ” and then later, “You bought me a beer,” the old man said, “You are already a man.” (Hemingway 12). The picture of Santiago’s wife being “turned down under a shirt,” (Hemingway 16), depicted his lonely state, and was a representation of lapsed time and memory concerning past family ties. Now, this...
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