Themes Embodying Human Nature in Old Man and the Sea

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Themes embodying Human Nature in the Old Man And The Sea

From the very first page to the last, the Old Man and the Sea, by Earnest Hemingway embodies the full plethora of a labyrinth known as human nature. Santiago, the protagonist, is described to the reader as flying the "flag of permanent defeat" (Hemingway, 9). He is a destitute individual, with barely food to eat, let alone a bed to sleep in. Yet he is a source of great determination, and promises that one day he will catch a fish of massive proportions. He recognizes that life is an honorable struggle, that tests his pride, and perseverance.

Primarily, the Old Man And the Sea is an example of the phrase: "Kill or Be Killed". The novelette exemplifies life as a struggle to survive, which is the very core of life itself. On the battlefield, for example, men may not fight and die for what they feel is a just cause, so much as an effort to stay alive. The Old Man philosophizes that death is inevitable and that all life will eventually succumb to it, like the bird that "the hawks will eventually come out to meet" (Hemingway, 55). However he goes on to state that the very best men will refuse to give in, rather they will fight death to the bitter end. Those who choose to face death rather than defeat, are those that Santiago considers to be truly worthy, and thus gain his admiration. This display of affection for his opponents never deviates from the fact that all men will someday die, but merely suggests that there is honor in defeating those who are worthy.

Furthermore, the struggle of life takes pride and determination. Santiago's determination to kill the fish largely stems from his pride in being a champion fisherman. This is especially evident when he fights the attacking sharks, where his pride gives him perseverance and determination. His determination to protect his catch, and latter his dignity, spurs him to fight even when there is nothing left to fight for. He protects the marlin with his...
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