The Old Man and the Sea - Critical Evaluation

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‘The Old Man and The Sea’ by Ernest Hemingway
CEL

Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and The Sea’ is set in Cuba during the 1950’s. The main characters that are portrayed in this novel are Santiago, the old man and the main character of the story, Manolin, the young boy who looks up to the old man for guidance and also helps Santiago in any way he can and the fish, a marlin. The sharks also play a significant part of this tale. There are many themes that run throughout this novel including determination, heroism, courage, pride and perseverance. In this essay I plan to discuss how Hemingway uses Santiago’s character to convey certain themes that are constantly present throughout the novel. I found this book to be a very inspiring and touching tale about never giving up and believing in yourself.

The novel opens with a sentence which explains that the old man has gone 84 days without catching a single fish. We then go on to see how his determination gets the better of him as he travels into very deep water and goes further out than anyone else. After a huge struggle with nature Santiago eventually catches the fish and he feels like his luck is returning. Unfortunately this feeling of triumph is short lived as a number of sharks appear and attack the marlin, eating the fish and leaving only the skeleton behind. The old man feeling tired and defeated, makes his way back home crushed with fatigue.

Our first impressions of Santiago are that he is old, weak and alone. Hemingway illustrates this through the opening sentence of the novel:
“He was an old man who fished alone in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a single fish.” This suggests that the old man is an extremely unfortunate fisherman. In this sort of novel we would expect to be introduced to some sort of heroic figure but Santiago seems to be the complete opposite of this. In the opening paragraph Hemingway also uses the simile ‘it looked like the flag of permanent...
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