The Old Man and the Sea: A Tale of Betrayed Brotherhood

Topics: The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway, Kill Pages: 4 (1684 words) Published: February 1, 2011
“The Old Man and the Sea:” A Tale of Betrayed Brotherhood In Ernest Hemingway’s novella “The Old Man and the Sea,” an old fisherman named Santiago faces the challenge of catching the largest fish of his life, an act he hopes will bring immortal greatness to his name. The accomplishment of this goal, however, hinges on the act of killing a creature Santiago often deems his equal, as exemplified by his recurring reference to the fish as a brother. The old man’s longing for greatness negates any moral considerations he may have, though, until he realizes his own mortality, extends that into a feeling of equality with the fish, and the fish’s body is destroyed by sharks. Then he understands what he has done: stripped the noble fish, his equal, of its pride. From that point on, he regrets his actions of betraying his brother. Therefore, throughout a majority of “The Old Man and the Sea,” Santiago’s desire to achieve immortal greatness overshadows the immorality of his actions, but when the sharks destroy the physical embodiment of this achievement, the fish, he realizes that the end does not justify the means; immortal greatness is not obtained. Santiago, who is nearing the end of his life, has a preoccupation bordering on obsession with greatness. He continually speaks and thinks of Joe DiMaggio, the embodiment of greatness in the form of a baseball player, and his roots as a poor fisherman’s son strengthen the attachment. He dreams of lions, the kings of the jungle, enjoying their domain on a beach. Greatness is clearly on Santiago’s mind. In addition, he longs for the type of greatness that transcends human life; he dreams of achieving immortality through the remembrance of his name in association with something great after his death. After battling the fish for many days, Santiago thinks, “I am not good for many more turns. Yes you are, he told himself. You’re good for ever” (Hemingway 70). His inner speech, particularly the last sentence, demonstrates his lofty,...
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