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The Old Man and the Sea. Ernest Hemingway. Setting. late 1940s small fishing village near Havana, Cuba the water of the Gulf of Mexico. Point of View. Third Person Omniscient The narrator describes the characters and events objectively.

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the old man and the sea

The Old Man and the Sea

Ernest Hemingway

  • late 1940s
  • small fishing village near Havana, Cuba
  • the water of the Gulf of Mexico
point of view
Point of View
  • Third Person Omniscient
  • The narrator describes the characters and events objectively.
  • The narrator often provides details about Santiago’s inner thoughts and dreams.
tone style
  • Hemingway uses a journalistic, matter-of-fact, tone and style.
  • The monotonous tone of the novella matches the sensations of Santiago (alone) in the boat being dragged to sea.
  • Hemingway implores understatement throughout.
form genre
  • The Old Man and the Sea is a parable (a simple story that relays a moral lesson).
  • Frequently, parables are allegories (stories in which characters, objects, and events hold fixed symbolic meaning).

Endurance and Struggle

  • Santiago struggles against defeat.
  • He is unlucky (salao).
  • He refuses defeat, vowing to sail further out to sea than any other fisherman.
  • Many of the young fisherman look down upon him.
  • He hooks the marlin (his brother), fights it, fights for it, and returns to the village.

Endurance and Struggle

  • Santiago’s battle against (within) nature.
  • Santiago and the marlin display characteristics of pride, honor, and bravery.
  • The world is full of predators (the weary warbler).
  • Through the effort to battle the inevitable Santiago proves himself.

Endurance and Struggle:

  • Santiago finds the marlin worthy.
  • This admiration brings respect and honor to the struggle.
  • “Because I love you, I have to kill you.”
  • Santiago is destroyed but never defeated.
  • He emerges as a hero.

Pride and Determination:

  • Santiago’s pride becomes his tragic flaw.
  • He is aware of this flaw. What does this mean for his character?
  • After the sharks destroy the marlin, Santiago apologizes to his brother.
  • His pride ruins them both.
  • However, pride motivates Santiago to overcome the 84 days of misfortune.

Pride and Determination:

  • Without pride, would the struggle have been fought? Would Santiago have abandoned the fight?
  • Santiago is determined to defeat the sharks and return to the village with his prize.
  • He is willing to die in order to bring in the marlin.

Pride and Determination:

  • Victory is not a prerequisite for honor.
  • The honor Santiago attains does not come from the battle with the marlin, but rather, from his pride and determination to fight.

The Marlin:

  • represents the ideal opponent.
  • Santiago feels fortunate to be matched with such an opponent.
  • brings out the best in Santiago: his strength, courage, love and respect.

The Lions:

  • Santiago associates the lions with his youth.
  • Suggest a circular nature to life.
  • Santiago imagines the lions, fierce predators, playing which suggests harmony between the opposing forces – life and death, love and hate, destruction and regeneration.

The Sharks:

  • Gracelessly attack the marlin (Santiago’s brother).
  • Contrast the beauty and nature of the marlin.
  • Illustrate the destructive forces of nature, which all creatures must face.