Santiago and the Marlin

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Ernest Hemingway is one of the best authors at using symbolism in his books. Santiago is an old fisherman who fishes out of a small Cuban village in the 1940’s. Santiago has fished for a living his whole life and the past 84 days he has not caught a thing. 85 is his lucky number, so on the 85th day he thinks he will catch something. Sure enough he hooks up with a massive marlin and spends 3 long days fighting it. Hemingway portrays interesting symbolism between Santiago, the old fisherman, and the marlin that he catches. In Hemingway’s novel, The Old Man and the Sea, the great marlin symbolizes Santiago in many ways.

Being old and wise is one of the many themes that Hemingway develops in this novel as he compares the marlin and Santiago. “Like an athlete he forces himself to eat and sleep, although he likes neither” (Wittowski). Santiago doesn’t want to waste his time eating or sleeping, but he knows that both are essential for his success at catching the marlin. Santiago is an old man, but along with age, comes wisdom and experience. “I may not be as strong as I think…But I know many tricks and I have resolutions” (Hemingway 23). We all probably think we are smarter than what we truly are. In the battle for his life, the marlin puts up a strong fight. Like Santiago, he too seems to be old and wise. “The big fish refuses to surface and begins to swim out to sea, towing the skiff behind it” (Napierkoski 197). The marlin seems to know that it must stay below the surface of the water if it wants to survive. Hemingway suggests that the marlin knows this because, like Santiago, the marlin is also old and wise. Over the years, Santiago learned many lessons. The gigantic marlin obviously must have learned many things too, as he had survived this long without being caught by a fisherman. “Never have I had such a strong fish nor one who acted so strangely. Perhaps he is to wise to jump. He could ruin me by jumping or a wild rush. But perhaps he has been hooked many...
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