The Old Man and the Sea, a Man Be Destroyed but Not Defeated

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A Man Be Destroyed, But Not Defeated.

Reading through the novel The Old Man and the Sea one, as a reader, can perceive several themes in the book. Various arguments can be established by the way Hemingway set up the story. Some may argue that the novel’s theme was Santiago’s struggle, the friendship with the fish and other characters, Santiago’s perseverance and that he really ended up as a triumphant man. But to argue that those were also the main themes of the book is also a difficult thing to do. Even though Santiago fought and kept on with his struggle to catch the fish, he was defeated because he lost it at the end.

Defeat, according to the Larousse Chambers English Dictionary, is when you are overthrown in a battle, you lose a game and therefore you don’t win: you don’t gain or reach your goal. As we can see Santiago, in spite of the fact that he persevered and struggled, starving, for three days lost the battle. He couldn’t get to his main goal. What exactly was his goal, one may ask? He wanted the fish, he was not fishing as a hobby or sport; he planned to sell the fish and get some money to eat. It was his way of surviving. Santiago’s only way of income was fishing. He mentions. “ He was a fish to keep a man all winter.”(page 111). Santiago had plans for him already but failed to accomplish them. Some will argue that he won because he gained spiritual victory. This in a way is true, but fishing is his job and only way of living. If Santiago was only fishing for his personal entertainment it could be seen as a new experience or story to tell. But it wasn’t. Santiago needed the fish and lost it. He wasn’t happy or joyful about it.

Throughout the book we get the idea of Santiago being beaten, a synonym for defeated. The idea of being beaten is shown in two ways: the fact that Santiago knows it and that he accepts it. Showing the knowledge of his situation, the author tells us, “He knew he was beaten now finally and without remedy…”(page 119) “…it is...
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