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An Analysis of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea

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An Analysis of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea
What makes Ernest Hemingway memorable? Ernest Hemingway, a fellow member of the Lost Generation Americans in Paris, was born in Oak Park, Illinois. He started writing at age 17 when he became a writer in a newspaper office in Kansas City. Then after getting injured in World War I he became a reporter for Canadian and American newspaper. The job acquired him to relocate back to Europe to cover events, such as the Greek Revolution. Throughout his life he wrote many great novels, however like every writer he encountered "writers block" for quite some years. However, he came back in 1952 with his most outstanding short novel, The Old Man and the Sea. In this novella, Ernest Hemingway wrote about a well-rounded old man, named Santiago, who faces off with death, and lives to see the boy, Manolin, once again. Death takes Santiago on a long and lonely journey, wishing Manolin was with him at sea. Hemingway's short novel, The Old Man and the Sea, depicts a tremendous challenge that Santiago and Manolin must struggle against nature and one's self. Not all men are respected by others, not all men are kind-hearted, and not all men are devoted. Most importantly not all men are all three of these characteristics. However, Santiago, also known as the Old man, is all three of these personality traits and much more. In, The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway describes Santiago as, "The Old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck. The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks. The blotched ran well down the sides of his face and his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords... Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated" (Hemmingway 9-10). The reader now knows that that the Old man is persistent and a child-at-heart kind of character. For example, Santiago was going on it eighty-four days without catching any fish, yet he still stayed optimistic each and every day saying, "But today is eighty-five days and I should fish the day well" (Hemingway 41). He stays childlike through the baseball, dreaming about lions, and fishing. According to Burhans, "Santiago is seen as a loving, patient, and brave man, both proud and humble, who accepts and appreciates life, despite all its hardships" (Burhans 198). He is patient because he let the marlin reel him out to sea for two days, while others would have given up on it. He is loving because he loves the marlin even though it can kill him in a matter of seconds, and he loves Manolin as if it were his own son. He is brave because in the short story he fought off countless sharks with only things he had on his small boat. At the end of the novella, after Santiago caught the fish and arrived home, never once had he boasted about the enormous marlin he caught or shown off his scars he got from the marlin, instead he dreams about his happy place. The only person who knows how hard the Old man suffered at sea is his care-taker. Manolin is the type of son that every parent wants. In The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, "Manolin is shown to be someone who love and respects Santiago, and who realizes that he can learn things from the old man that he can't learn at home" (Burhans 198). Manolin is a teenage boy who is very accumulating to the Old man, "I must get him another shirt and a jacket for the winter and some sort of shoes and another blanket" (Hemingway 21). Another example, is when he gets beer, and sardines for Santiago. Also, whenever Santiago goes out fishing he always wishes to come with him, "Can I go out to get sardines for you for tomorrow?...I would like to go If I cannot fish with you, I would like to serve in some way" (Hemmingway 12). He not only takes care of him he also has a father-and-son relationship with Santiago," The old man had taught the boy to fish and the boy loved him" (Hemingway 10). He did not learn a lot of things from his father because his father doesn't acknowledge him; however, Manolin is "a boy" and "must obey him." However, at the end of the story after he saw the Old man's hands and cried he declared to Santiago that "Now we fish together again" (Hemmingway 125). When Santiago asked him about what his family would think about it, Manolin simply replied, "I do not care. I caught two yesterday. But we will fish together now for I still have much to learn...You must get will fast for there is much that I can learn and you can teach me everything..." (Hemingway 125-126). This statement is very important because it shows that he is willing to go against his parent's authority to take care of Santiago. Essentially, when Santiago passes away Manolin will be able to carry on his legacy. Everyone dies, but their life never really ends. In other words, the person may not physically be here in the world, but he/she is still alive in their love one's heart. In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway never actually wrote that Santiago dies at the end of the novella, but the reader knows that he will pass away eventually with all the subtle hints Hemingway put in. For example, the book ends with him sleeping and dreaming about lions, his happy place; it's an inclination that he is at peace and will be able to die happy. Also, another example is Santiago catching the enormous marlin. This symbolizes that he has completed the greatest challenge life can throw at him, and that there will be no more challenges in the near future because the marlin he caught returned back to the island as a skeleton. The biggest hint that Hemingway can give away is the fact that Santiago accepts death, "Fish...I'll stay with you until I am dead" (Hemingway 52). However, his life doesn't just finish there. According to Wilson, "The old man becomes the sea and like the sea he endures. He is dying as the year is dying. He is fishing in September, the fall of the year, the time that corresponds in the natural cycle to the phase of sunset and sudden death... Yet the death of the old man will not bring an end to the cycle; as part of the sea he will continue to exist..." (Wilson 1342). This statement is especially significant because it lets somebody see that there is life after death. Life continues on even without being physically here in the world. In effect, this illustrates how powerful the human spirit is. Is it achievable to break a man but not his spirit? According to Stoneback it is probable, "Hemingway's theme has the broadest possible application to general experience, suggesting that although a person may be stripped of everything in the process of living, may lose everything and everyone, nevertheless a quest conducted with skill, courage, endurance, honor, and compassion can guarantee the ultimate triumph of the human spirit" (Stoneback 3042). In The Old Man and the Sea, it proves to be true because never once did Santiago ever lose hope even when his hand cramped, had back trouble, and missed the boy. He stayed positive knowing that whatever challenge was thrown his way he would figure out a way to become victorious. For example, when the sharks started attacking his marlin he stayed calm and defended the fish. Also, in the novella Santiago says, "A man can be destroyed but not defeated" (Hemingway 103). The fact that Santiago himself accepts this way of living life means he is doing things right. People should never give up as long as they are willing to fight for what they believe in. Essentially, this even means to fight against this book. The short novel, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, is one of his best work of art. However, some say it was is worst work of art he ever wrote. The story was highly mind-numbing; no one wants to read about a fish dragging an old man at sea for two days without any action. Also, the story plot was unrealistic. For example, there is no way that one single man who had already wounded his hands terribly still be able to fight off sharks, especially in the dark where it is hard to see without any light. Another factor that made this novella a poor read was the resolution. The author wrote about a two day plot trying to catch this big huge marlin for only to be eaten by sharks in the end. It's extremely disappointing that Santiago had to go through all these obstacles in order to get the marlin's skeleton. In other words, Ernest Hemingway made a poor innocent old man suffer and get nothing in return. In addition, Santiago was suppose to sell the marlin's meat for money to buy his necessities, however, now he can't because there is nothing to sell. Now the reader gets to feel bad for Santiago lasting through the winter lonely and cold. Overall the novella, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, is the most horrible work of art ever written by Hemingway.

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