“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”
Many of Ernest Hemingway’s stories are either literally or figuratively based on his experiences. Philip Young, a literary critic and authority on Ernest Hemingway, concurs: “Many of the stories…are very literal translations of some of the most important events in Hemingway’s own life”. The Old Man and the Sea continues this autobiographical tradition. When The Old Man and the Sea is analyzed from a biographical perspective, it is obvious how Hemingway’s life influenced his writing. First of all, The Old Man and the Sea can be interpreted as an allegory of Hemingway’s career at the time he wrote it. In addition, Hemingway was lonely when he wrote The Old Man and the Sea, and his loneliness is apparent in the protagonist’s loneliness and isolation. Furthermore, in this novel, women are portrayed in a negative way, which is a result of Hemingway’s failed relationships with women, including his mother.
But as a novel, The Old Man and the Sea is a story that celebrates strength, wisdom, and–above all–friendship. We learn about the hardships Santiago faces as an aging fisherman who struggles through repeated streaks of bad luck. The plot of the story focuses on his journey out to sea after going 84 days without catching any fish. The old fisherman faces struggle after struggle but refuses to be defeated.
Ernest Hemingway was a 20th-century fiction writer and journalist. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Nobel Prize in Literature. At age 18, Hemingway went to Italy as an ambulance driver during WWI. He was seriously hurt and was returned home and that experience became the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms.
The old man symbolizes war’s destructive impact on the innocent. Like the animals he leaves behind, the old man has no idea what the war means or why it is happening, but it nevertheless upends his life. Hemingway uses the old man’s fate to critique warfare.
The old man is emotionally depleted. He is “without politics” in this war and has nowhere to go if he can make it off this bridge. Finally, the narrator successfully urges him to try to move forward, but after a few wobbly steps, the old man is forced to sit down in the dust again.
The narrator comes to understand that “there was nothing to do about” the old man, and in this realization, he also understands that the old man will die at this bridge. Displaced, alone, and dejected, the old man no longer has his animals and faces “enemy” forces whose battles are not his own.
Santiago dreams his pleasant dream of the lions at play on the beaches of Africa three times. The first time is the night before he departs on his three-day fishing expedition, the second occurs when he sleeps on the boat for a few hours in the middle of his struggle with the marlin, and the third takes place at the very end of the book. In fact, the sober promise of the triumph and regeneration with which the novella closes is supported by the final image of the lions. Because Santiago associates the lions with his youth, the dream suggests the circular nature of life. Additionally, because Santiago imagines the lions, fierce predators, playing, his dream suggests a harmony between the opposing forces—life and death, love and hate, destruction and regeneration—of nature.
The Old Man and the Sea is a novel about courage and determination. The main character, Santiago, is an aging fisherman who is the subject of mockery by the younger fisherman. They believe he has lost his worth, but he refuses to give in. He takes his ship out of sight of land and hooks a giant marlin.
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