Earnest Hemingway’s "The Old Man and the Sea" Portrays a Man’s Fulfillment in Striving rather than in Success: Investigating Santiago's Consciousness




  'A man can be destroyed but not defeated.' _
Earnest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea

It has been rightly suggested that Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea portrays a man’s fulfillment in striving rather than in success. The book's simple plot contains some element of suspense, but above all, the book lives in its beautiful imagery, the poetic evocation of the sea, and the admirable character of an old man. Read More American literature The story of the novella is that of an old fisherman’s single-handed fight with a giant marlin and then with sharks is the Gulf Stream, north of Havana and it is unmistakably a parable on the theme of fighting the good fight. Hemingway focuses on Santiago's consciousness in this quest story. Read More American literature Very much in the way that a traditional soliloquy or an interior monologue serves to reveal character, this novella functions as one long exploration of the old man's character. Hemingway shows here that is human experience as a whole there are many forms of both marlin and sharks with which men love so fight like Santiago and in Hemingway’s code it is not the end that matters but the way man struggles against these forces. Like the other ‘code heroes’ of Hemingway, Santiago has the courage and endurance of a matador and like them, he reveals ‘grace under pressure’. Santiago is a ‘code hero’ also in the way he combines the matador figure with that of the crucified hero. The wounds he receives during his epic battle first with the marlin and then with the sharks not only equal him with Christ but also suggest that suffering is the inescapable lot of the Hemingway hero. Hemingway's symbolism suggests that Santiago is a Christ-figure. After the sharks attack his fish, for example, Santiago says, 'Ay'; Read More American literature Hemingway writes that 'there is no translation for this word and perhaps it is just a noise such as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood.' 


At the end of the book, Santiago struggles up the hill with the mast on his shoulder, a symbolic echo of Christ carrying the cross. Read More American literature Many 'religious' images contribute to this symbolic pattern, while other patterns of symbolism center on baseball and dreams of youth. .But it like the rejected love in Browning’s The Last Ride Together, Santiago also believes,” all men strive and who succeeds?” so if human existence is to be justified in Hemingway’s ethics, it is in action , in the pursuit of the game and in the race rather than in any reward.


In a strictly objective view, the man Santiago is only a simple fisherman, “thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck”. His hands have the deep erased and old scars from handling heavy fish on the cords. Everything about him is old except his eyes, which have the “same color as the sea and were cheerful and unaffected”. Read More American literature Santiago shows certain qualities of mind and heart which at once raise him alone the level of a simple fisherman and which are clearly associate ted with the character and personality of Jesus Christ. There is the staying power which helps him in his determination to last to the end of whatever is to come. There is the ability to ignore physical pain while concentrating of on the larger object which is to be achievement. Moreover or the very title of the novel indicator, the old man is an archetype whose struggle gains a timeless quality because it takes please against the vast elemental background of the sea.  

Read More American literature As Carlos Baker has commented, the old man moves into the gallery of literary immortals, like Wordsworth’s Leech-Gatherer whose struggle for existence is also portrayed against a vast natural backdrop, that of the British moorland. The old man has been out of the sea again and again and loves the creatures of the sea like the flying fish. They all come to life in Santiago's mind. Santiago speaks to and loves the flying fish, the dolphins, and the noble marlin. Santiago also speaks to the sharks, but he meets their malignancy with enmity.  Santiago thinks of the sea as a woman, thinks of it 'as la mar, which is what people call her in Spanish when they love her,' while the younger fisherman think of the sea as the masculine 'el mar ' and consider it 'a contestant or a place or even an enemy.'  The green turtles and hawk bills ‘with their elegance and sped’. Porpoises delight him. “They are good “, he says “they play and make jokes and love one another. They are our brother like the flying fish.” 





 Santiago’s fighting spirit is reverted on the other hand in his struggle with the huge marlin. As Santiago braces himself against the boat and leans against the hull, weight against weight, the skiff moves slowly off towards the North West. Four hours later, the old man is still shoddy braced with the line across his back, “not to think hut only to endure”. ”He will show the fish, “what a man can do and what a man endures”. Read More American literature On the morning of the third day comes the zenith of his struggle. Now the marlin rises and slowly circles the boat while the old man sweats and strains to get the fish close enough for harpooning. His hands are lacerated and her is nearly blind with fatigue but he manages to drive home the harpoon .but after a briefs respite the sharks begin to attack the fish and though Santiago fight them with his oar, they gradually take away the whole of the fish. There is the thing leaf of the great fish except the skeleton, the bony head and the vertical tail.


 Santiago has had to fight a lonely battle and loses the battle after winning it. There was no one to help him, so he pulled the boat up as far as he could. Though he is physically exhausted, he rests a moral victory from him marathon battle and has never conceded the defeat. As he says “man is not made for the defect .a man can be destroyed but not defected”. This spirit of struggle defying all the odds stacked against him makes Santiago a tragic hero like all great tragic heroes. He refuses to allow any impairment of his belief in the work of what he has been doing. He is not a rebel, like caption Ahab in Melville’s Moby Dick, against the ruling power of the universe. Read More American literature When he drives his harpoon into the marlin’s heart, he does not imagine to have destroyed anything except a price fish with which he has fought long and fairly. The arrival of the sharks is a further challenge which he takes in his stride.

It is the relentless baffle to assert his native worth and dignity that the essential tragedy of Santiago’s situation his. From the battle itself he gains nothing except the sense of having taught it to the limits of his strength, of having shown what a man can do when it is necessary. Like most tragic heroes, Santiago remains undefeated only because he has gone on trying. Confronted with disaster and mercy broken physically, he remains spiritually undefeated and rises to the status of a Christ like figure. Age, isolation, exhaustion and various other obstacles have been overcome by him and he has exemplified the nobility of the human spirit. Read More American literature Even in physical defect. Another tragic trait in  Santiago’s character lies in his love of excess. He sails beyond his limits and acknowledges this himself when he tells the skeleton of the marlin, “fish that you were. I went too far out. I ruined us both.”  


Ardhendu De              

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