Old Man and the Sea Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway, narrates the story of an older man named Santiago who fishes for his living. Frustrated by his failure to catch anything for many days, Santiago ventures out into the ocean, in a very small boat, further than he ever has before, facing multiple struggles and crises. Throughout the story we see references and images to both youth and to the determination to fight great battles against all odds. He repeatedly dreams of seeing young lions playing on a beach in Africa, multiple images of Christ's crucifixion appear throughout the story, and he revels in the stories of an American baseball player who fights through the effects of age to continue playing. Santiago emphasizes his fixation on growing older by calling his young friend Manolin a "boy" when the story indicates that Manolin is actually a young man. Santiago's story is the story of a man doing battle with the one force he can never win: the inevitability of age's effect on the body.

The writer reveals Santiago's struggles with the physical effects of growing old in a variety of ways. First there is his intense interest in aging baseball players and what he admires about them. Then there are Santiago's dreams. The references to Christ's crucifixion evoke other images not only of death but of conquering death. Finally, the author uses the names of major characters to emphasize the issue of age in this story.

Santiago has a friend who clearly is much younger than him by the name of Manolin. Both men's names indicate Santiago's struggles with growing old. Although Santiago repeatedly refers to Manolin as a "boy," this is apparently just an old man's tendency to emphasize that Manolin still has a lot of living left to do, because the author reveals that Manolin is at least
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as old as a major league baseball player. The word "man" in Manolin's name juxtaposed with Santiago's repeatedly calling him a boy emphasizes Santiago's struggles with aging.

Santiago's name is interesting because it contains the word "ago." Some time ago in the past, Santiago was a great fisherman, so great the people of the village called him "Santiago the Champion." During the period of this story, however, it is clear that the villagers believe his time has passed. In fact, Manolin's father wants Manolin to find someone else to fish with because Santiago hasn't caught a single fish in over 80 days. The "ago" also emphasizes that Santiago remembers when he was younger and more vigorous and dreads the loss of the kind of physical strength it takes to go to sea to fish. Santiago's body is beginning to fail him, but in his heart and mind he longs to be physically robust.

Santiago's dreams about the young lions emphasize how he identifies with his youth and resists growing frail. The image of young lions playing on a beach is a vivid one because of the way lions play, intensely and in mock combat. In addition, it brings Santiago back to a time in his life when he was young and strong, sailing around the world. He saw the lions from the deck of a great sailing ship as a young man. He could relate to the young lions playing on the beach then because he was so young and strong himself. In his mind he still sees himself that way. Santiago has lived a full life, but in his dreams he does not dream of other fish he has caught, or of important events in his life. He does not even dream of his wife. He only dreams about the young lions in mock battle on the beach. Santiago wants, more than anything, to be a young lion again.


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