, Research Paper
This novel weaves together the story of an old man, reflective and humble, and a giant Marlin, the largest ever seen, who engage in a struggle to the death. The novel is a wonderful mixture of all the distress and praise of life revisited and, in a way, it weighs out the experiences at face value as the old man recognizes his age and deteriorating old body. This book could be an extended metaphor of almost anything. I choose to believe it is a metaphor of life’s unpredictable wonder and valuable experiences.
This man, Santiago, characterizes the meaning of Hemingway’s life as writer. He is very humble despite a past of glorious fishing and being “El champion” of the village. Santiago is no longer interested in glories which are pushed out with the coming of old age and true wisdom; he is content with life as it is and dreaming of lions and reading about baseball. The old man is unlucky, he hasn’t caught a fish in eighty-four days and he is poor that he must rely on a boy to provide for him his necessities of life. The boy is attached to the man but his parents will not let him fish with the man because he has become so unlucky. So the man goes alone on his skiff out to the sea, doing the most he possibly can with his weathered and deteriorating body. The man going alone with no help from the boy is an important factor in the story which is based upon independence of spirit and the drive of one man against nature.
Life brings challenges and obstacles and seem to be a large problem to an individual at the time they occur, but in the reality of the big picture the problems are not that important. We see this demonstrated in the old man’s past experiences. He shows that he is a humble man who has had greatness in the past through being El champion and through great fishing days of being the pride of the village. These occurrences don’t seem to matter anymore as it is now the man against the sea, nature, or the fish, whichever way one chooses to see it. He becomes larger than himself, a part of something greater than all of his life has amounted to. There is a strange peace in the man that has been unparalleled through his experiences. It is being at peace with himself. The Marlin is his destiny, he comes to understand his past and future in acceptance of what will come. The Marlin isn’t just another fish to him. The Marlin is a savior that shows him majesty, glory and wonder, it is his key to his heart and his soul.
The book parallels man’s ultimate quest for a niche, it shows one mans struggle for life and the answer he finds is one that is very unexpected. Santiago represents a fusion of the author’s life experiences (Hemingway himself) and the encounters of a life time that have been held inside. This book is very much a release for Hemingway to explain his life and his views on the importance of the past, present and future. Through the old man, greatness is achieved in experiences making him look like a humble, worthy old man. The challenge is an inducement of his very soul and to affirm Santiago’s entire being. It is a meaning to live or a meaning to die.
This book is trails and tribulations of life, it is the beginning and the end of what is meaningful to a man and his soul. The battle between love and life has taken a toll on the man and the Marlin. This old man and his insight has finally realized he is dying, like everyone is dying. He has become independent from a wife who has passed away, a boy who is his only friend, and a village in which he was honored. It is a parallel of life, a metaphor on what the meaning of life really is. Hemingway uses his book as a commentary on what is real and what is important. Experiences dwindle to memories, and frustration turns to exhaustion and all we have left are the things we hold close to our soul like baseball, lions on the beach and the peace within your own soul.