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An American Childhood Analysis

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A recurring theme in Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea that is also expressed in Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood is the growing sense of awe when observing nature as one ages. This appreciation for nature stems from the need to conquest nature when people are younger, according to Hemingway. Dillard says that people simply enjoy nature more when they are older because they have the time to. To children “all of it is new to them” so they don’t hold a special appreciation for the beauty in nature (Dillard 1). However the adult attitude towards nature forms, children grow up feeling like an outsider to nature looking in, but as adults they realize how they affect nature and are a part of it. There is a divide in the approach to …show more content…
Dillard describes a teacher “now in her sixties, who is increasingly stunned” by nature, more so than the children she is teaching (Dillard 1). Similarly, Santiago has love and compassion for various sea animals. He feels bad for turtles when they are butchered for he has “such a heart too” (Hemingway 36-7) Santiago and Dillard’s character are both teachers, Santiago teaching the boy to fish, and the latter is an academic teacher. They have spent their lives learning, and now that they have completed educations and are passing on knowledge to a younger generation, they have a deeper insight to nature. They can focus their energies on observing things that may seem arbitrary such as sea turtles or brightly colored leaves. This focus is also expressed when Santiago describes young men who regard the sea as a “contestant...or even as an enemy” (Hemingway 30). The younger men have a more brutal relationship with the sea, and although they may appreciate it, they appreciate it in a way that someone may respect the strength of their opponent in a fight. Aged and experienced, Santiago has a more understanding relationship with the ocean, and “works with the sea,” letting it aid him as he sails (Out Too Far 81). Neither is necessarily the more correct way to fish and work with nature, but the way that Santiago fishes is with an attitude that expresses his understanding of the ocean from years of working with it. When he describes the careful techniques he uses to fish it can be insinuated that he feels like he has an “insider” view on the way that the ocean works compared to the newer methods of

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