In Ernest Hemingway’s novel, The Old Man and the Sea, a Cuban man named Santiago goes out on a fishing voyage trying to break his bad luck of going 84 days without a catch. Santiago is only dependent on his strength and willpower, while alone at sea. During this time, Hemingway portrays the old man as someone dissatisfied with isolation, creating for himself the illusion of company by prattling amongst himself. At the start of the text, Santiago is joined by a fisherman of adolescence named Manolin. It seemed like he had it all figured out with youth on his side until 40 days had passed and the two were fish-less. The boy could no longer accompany him after that point since he was trying to make a living, forcing Santiago into isolation due to his bad luck. The remaining days were spent alone in a small skiff with nothing but fishing supplies and a mind of his own. “He did not remember when he had first started to talk aloud when he was by himself. He had sung when he was by himself in the old days and he had sung at night sometimes when he was alone steering on his watch in the smacks or in the turtle boats. He had probably started to talk aloud, when alone, when the boy had left. He said his thoughts aloud many times since there was no one that they could annoy.”(35)
Although the old man is isolated from others he never completely feels alone. In fact, that is what got him through and kept him sane while embarking on his journey. He knows that even after being gone for days, that people back home believe in him and that he will be coming home with a fish. By telling himself that he has people looking out for him and wishing him well why away, Santiago has the willpower to escape being alone. “I hope no one has been too worried. There is only the boy to worry, of course. But I am sure he would have confidence. Many of the older fishermen will worry. Many others too, he thought. I live in a good town.” (85) Later on in the text as Santiago comes to face more difficult tasks such as fighting off sharks and keeping the thousand pound fish alive. Put simply, Santiago tends to his duties as if they were quite simple but he still felt an emptiness inside in hopes that the boy was with him to share the experience with. Out loud the man says, "I wish I had the boy to help me and to see this." He comforts himself with his own words as though it’s all he has left. All around and throughout the course of The Old Man and the Sea, it is prominent that Santiago is filling the emptiness of his heart by creating his own company. He searched for birds to have one ounce of company, talks to the fish as if he is a friend, and enjoys a quality conversation with himself to keep things at ease. Even when he returns to land he feels alone not having anyone there to help him bring up his boat. This shows that in the end it comes down to us and the own dependency that we possess. Though this novel was written decades back, the life lessons within it and the unique symbolism are still further explained today. Ernest Hemingway’s literature will never go unrecognized.