ENC0025 - 725623
05 March 2013
Revised: Analysis of the Old Man and the Sea
Under close inspection, people have had a hard time agreeing what to make of Santiago's adventure in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Is it just a good fish tale? One brave man, one big fish, - sounds Biblical, but is it? Are we dealing with parable or fable? If so, what is the parallel narrative, or message, or moral? Different people have arrived at different answers, but I believe that Hemmingway is trying to show us the strength of one man, and how one boy (Manolin) could be so much help to only one person. The act of catching the fish is bound to the act of losing the fish. Whether he catches the fish or whether the fish snaps the line and escapes, the old man will not be able to bring the meat home. The fish is lost, either way. He gains only by losing. Santiago symbolizes a man that will not be defeated in any battle. “But a man is not made for defeat...A man can be destroyed but not defeated”(Hemingway 103). In the story he becomes the lowest man on the totem pole because he became an unsuccessful fishermen and was underneath the other successful fishermen. Santiago endured the discrimination and name calling of other fisherman. The older fishermen looked down on him and even felt sorry for him. It didn’t make him angry or mad but made him work harder.
One could also make a case that the old man has neither gained nor learned anything. He did not care when the other fishermen mocked him, so why should he care if they praise him? He had Manolin's love before and he has it still, and the love and support of that one special person can mean so much to someone and give them the confidence to go on. He had been a champion before as an arm-wrestler and knew he could be a champion again as a fisherman, even though in Manolin’s eyes he was always a champion. He is right and has the skeleton to prove it. He had bad luck before he hooked...