Fishing for Sucess
English and Literature
Submitted By vcarroll6160
The Old Man and the Sea
August 29, 2013
Fishing for Success In The Old Man and the Sea Hemingway tells the story of an old man’s quest for fish and turns it into a story about a hero that overcomes adversity. The title alone reveals to the reader that this is no ordinary fishing tale. Hemingway’s hero in the novel, the fisherman, Santiago, begins with adversity. He lives in poor conditions and has not caught fish for eight-four days. One might think of taking up a different line of work or sign up for a fishing class. But, Santiago remains optimistic and true to his passion. The adversity of the ocean, the fish, and the sharks are used by Hemingway to create a noble hero. Life is unpredictable and can make reaching your goals seem out of reach. Santiago endures the adversity brought on by the sea with courage and pride. Santiago lives very poorly and tells everyone he eats fish at home knowing that he has none to eat. He would rather go hungry than be shamed. Our hero bears the adversity of being a “salao” or the worst kind of unlucky. Santiago never accepting defeat begins again every day with a positive attitude that it will be a better day. Santiago respects and loves the sea, but at the same time must battle the sea. The sea even battles Santiago and heckles him using the voices of the other villagers that call him “salao.” Even though life symbolized by the sea challenges Santiago’s faith, he never gives up. On the eight-fifth day he vows to reach further out into the ocean. His courage to go further than anyone else enables him to find success by catching the Marlin. But, it is not without its own challenges. The Marlin that Santiago hooks is representative of the challenges of life. Our search for success can sometimes take you into unfamiliar waters, and push you more than you ever expected. Santiago had much respect for the Marlin and thought of it as an equal. Hemingway describes this environment, “man is not made for defeat…man can be destroyed but not defeated.” (Hemingway p 103). Death is a certain end for everyone and Santiago wanted to make the Marlin’s death a respected and honorable one. Because of the respect and admiration he had for the marlin he felt guilty for killing it. They both lived in the “eat or be eaten” environment. The marlin challenged Santiago’s strength and courage. Through the battle with the marlin the hero of The Old Man and the Sea looks within himself and finds the resolve to defeat the marlin and learns another important lesson: There are always other fish in the sea ready to steal away your big catch. Once Santiago captures the large marlin and begins the journey home sharks are quick to take it away. Every hero has a quality that is usually their down fall. Pride seems to be Santiago’s downfall, but he is very aware of it. Even when the sharks have eaten the marlin and this loss does not conquer Santiago. Once again our hero prevails.
One might think that he returns to his village with nothing, but that is not the case. The outside world will see him as a fisherman with the worst luck in the world. Santiago is heroic knowing that he achieved the biggest catch of his life by going a greater distance than anyone. Santiago had the attributes of courage, morals, and tenacity that enabled him to win his battle against the adversity of the sea, the fish and the sharks. Success is most often an award that is bestowed on someone by the opinion of others. Santiago was not impressed by the opinions of others. In fact, it is the opinion of this author that Santiago’s biggest competitor was himself. In the battle with the sea, the fish and the sharks he became the victor. He had an incredible journey and beat incredible odds and maintained his integrity in the process. This by any standards is success.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. New York: Scribner, 1952.