Psychosocial Aspects of the Old Man and the Sea

Topics: The Old Man and the Sea, Portuguese Man o' War, Fish Pages: 16 (6935 words) Published: February 24, 2005
Psychosocially therapeutic aspects of The old Man and the Sea

This exceptional story should be used as a therapeutic aid for hopeless and depressed people who needed a powerful force for continuing struggles of life against fate. They should say as the boy Manolin, "I'll bring the luck by myself." In the story the old man tells us "It is silly not to hope...besides I believe it is a sin." Hemingway draws a distinction between two different types of success: outer-material and inner-spiritual. While the old man lacks the former, the importance of this lack is eclipsed by his possession of the later. He teaches all people the triumph of indefatigable spirit over exhaustible resources. Hemingway's hero as a perfectionist man tells us: To be a man is to behave with honor and dignity, not to succumb to suffering, to accept one's duties without complaint, and most importantly to have maximum self-control. At the end of the story he mentions, "A man is not made for defeat...a man can be destroyed but not defeated." The book finishes with this symbolic sentence: "The old man was dreaming about lions." It is a psychological analysis of Hemingway famous story that we have used it as a psychotherapeutic aid for hopeless and depressed people and also psychological victims of war in a more comprehensive therapeutic plan. The first sentence of the book announces itself as Hemingway's: "He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish" . The words are plain, and the structure, two tightly-worded independent clauses conjoined by a simple conjunction, is ordinary, traits which characterize Hemingway's literary style. Santiago is the protagonist of the novella. He is an old fisherman in Cuba who, when we meet him at the beginning of the book, has not caught anything for eighty-four days. The novella follows Santiago's quest for the great catch that will save his career. Santiago endures a great struggle with a uncommonly large and noble marlin only to lose the fish to rapacious sharks on his way back to land. Despite this loss, Santiago ends the novel with his spirit undefeated. Some have said that Santiago represents Hemingway himself, searching for his next great book, an Everyman, heroic in the face of human tragedy, or the Oedipal male unconscious trying to slay his father, the marlin, in order to sexually possess his mother, the sea. We are told that after forty days Manolin's parents decided that "the old man was now and definitely salao, which is the worst form of unlucky". This sentence proclaims one of the novel's themes, the heroic struggle against unchangeable fate. Indeed, the entire first paragraph emphasizes Santiago's apparent lack of success. For example, "It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty." And most powerfully, "The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat". This type of descriptive degradation of Santiago continues with details of his old, worn body. Even his scars, legacies of past successes, are "old as erosions in a fishless desert" . All this changes suddenly, though, when Hemingway says masterfully, "Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated". This draws attention to a dichotomy between two different types of success: outer, material success and inner, spiritual success.. Also, Santiago's eye color foreshadows Hemingway's increasingly explicit likening of Santiago to the sea, suggesting an analogy between Santiago's indomitable spirit and the sea's boundless strength. "The old man had taught the boy to fish and the boy loved him". Manolin is Santiago's apprentice, but their relationship is not restricted to business alone. Manolin idolizes Santiago‹as we are meant to‹but the object of this idolization is not only the once great though presently failed fisherman; it is an...
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