6 June 2007
The Representation of Individuality in The Old Man and the Sea
As David Banach once explained in a lecture based on the Existentialist’s view, “The modern conception of man is characterized, more than anything else, by individualism. Existentialism can be seen as a rigorous attempt to work out of the implications of this individualism” (Taylor 52). The Existentialist conceptions of freedom and value arise from their view of the individual. Sartre’s existentialism explains “existence is self-making-in-a-situation” (Fackenheim 130) which outlines that one’s identity is not shaped by culture or by nature, but to “exist” is exactly what forms such an identity. Since we are all ultimately alone, like isolated islands of subjectivity in an objective world, we have absolute freedom over our internal nature, and the source of out value can only be internal. Santiago’s pride in the novel The Old Man and the Sea is what enables him to endure, and it is perhaps endurance that matters most in Hemingway’s conception of the world- a world in which death and destruction, as part of the natural order of things, are unavoidable. But through Santiago’s conquering of his inner struggles, he is able to decide his beliefs and values to construct his future; which enables him to achieve his most true and complete self. Ernest Hemingway portrays his character’s journey as not of one man and his struggle, but of Man and his struggle. The theory of existentialism is developed in the novel through the focus of the mood, the character’s inner and physical struggles, and through the inner them that is presented though the connection between the mood and the character’s respect and dignity with nature.
Dominate impression is portrayed throughout the many philosophical moments of Santiago has while pursuing the Marlin highlighted by his struggles and reflections. He proves his worthiness by combating with the...