The Old Man and the Sea Essay

The Old Man and the Sea is a very complex novel; there are symbolic meanings behind everything. This novel was written by Ernest Hemingway, the tale of this old man in Cuba was based on himself his life. The old man named Santiago and the boy named Manolin would fish all of the time together. The boy and the man once went eighty-five days without catching a single fish but they never gave up hope. The boy’s parents made him work for a different boat but the old man knew the boy still had faith in him. The old man would encounter many troublesome conflicts with himself and his surroundings, but one of which could be the battle for his life.

The old man has fought through a lot of things, but the cramp in his left hand was painful. It could not have come at a worse time, he had just caught the marlin and now would have to fight it and try to kill it with one hand. The old man’s left had failed him before, like when he was arm wrestling in Casablanca. “He had tried a few practice matches with his left hand. But his left hand had always been a traitor and would not do what he called on it to do and he did not trust it” (Hemingway 71). The old man’s hand was stiff and he could not get it to stop cramping, and if he needed it to get the marlin he would have to open it forcibly.

The marlin was very unique about how he handled being on the line. The marlin would not thrash around or jump out of the water. The old man battled the marlin for three days living without sleep or much food:

Then he began to pity the great fish that he had hooked. He is wonderful and strange and who knows how old he is, he thought. Never have I had such a strong fish nor one who acted so strangely. Perhaps he is too wise to jump. He could ruin me by jumping or by a wild rush. But perhaps he has been hooked many times before and he knows that this is how he should make his fight (Hemingway 48, 49).

The old man was starting to get confused. “I do not care who kills who” (Hemingway 92). He starts to give up, but he knows he has nothing else; to live for so he keeps a hold of the marlin and does not cut the line. The marlin finally swims up close to the boat and with everything the old man had he drove the harpoon through the marlin.

Santiago had finally accomplished his dream of catching this tremendously large marlin, but what he did not know was the battle had just begun. As the old man sailed towards home the marlin’s blood left a trail of deep red in the ocean behind him. It would not be long until the first shark of the frenzy came to chow down on the old man’s trophy. “He was a very big mako shark built to swim as fast as the fastest fish in the sea and everything about him was beautiful except his jaws” (Hemingway 100). As the shark came closer his hope started to diminish. Many sharks followed and finished off whatever was left of the marlin and what was left of the old man’s pride, he was truly defeated.

The old man is not much a religious man, but he stills turns to God to help him. The old man asks God to help him rid of his cramps and to help him catch the marlin. “I am not religious, he said. But I will say ten Our Fathers and ten Hail Marys that I should catch this fish” (Hemingway 65). God and the old man’s prayers have helped him through the fish and his cramp, but will it help him when the sharks come to feed?

The marlin and the old man develop a relationship while they are battling each other. The old man refers to the marlin as his brother, but the old man realizes that this is also his rival. He says that the marlin is strong and wise but so is the old man. As they fight through the three days he gains more and more respect for his adversary.

Except for the birds and the fish he is completely alone away from any sort of civilization. The old man has been on a struggle with the sea for three days trying to keep him sane and to get this marlin. He starts talking to the birds and wishes he was like them to be free. After the battles the sharks off he finally reaches ashore it was a whole other fight to get himself back to his shack, he was extremely weak and tired. The old man left with a broken heart and no pride, all he could do was sleep.

The tragic and eventful novel of The Old Man and the Sea had symbolic or biblical meanings behind it in which some refer to the author’s life. The old man’s dream of catching the marlin had come true but was shortly ended by the treacherous sharks. The old man wanted to show the town that he still had something left and that he was not just a helpless old man and did not want people to pity him. The boy still looked up to the old man and still kept faith in him.