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The Old Man and the Sea. Robert Emmett Freshman English 2002 - 2003. An Overview of the Novel. Biography. Settings. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Point of View. The Characters. Literary Elements. Themes. Ernest Hemingway 1898 - 1961.

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the old man and the sea

The Old Man and the Sea

Robert Emmett

Freshman English

2002 - 2003

an overview of the novel

An Overview of the Novel



The Old Man and the Sea


Ernest Hemingway

Point of View

The Characters

Literary Elements


ernest hemingway 1898 1961
Ernest Hemingway 1898 - 1961
  • “I live in a vacuum that is as lonely as a radio tube when the batteries are dead and there is no current to plug into.”



The Old Man and the Sea

  • Santiago Translated: is the protagonist of the novella.
  • He is an old fisherman in Cuba who has not caught anything for eighty-four days.
  • Santiago endures a great struggle with a uncommonly large and noble marlin
  • Santiago ends the novel with his spirit undefeated.
  • Santiago represents Hemingway himself, searching for his next great book, or an Everyman, heroic in the face of human tragedy
  • Manolin is Santiago's only friend and companion, a disciple figure
  • Santiago taught Manolin to fish, and the boy used to go out to sea with the old man until his parents objected to Santiago's bad luck.
  • Manolin still helps Santiago pull in his boat in the evenings and provides the old man with food and bait when he needs it.
  • Manolin is the reader's surrogate in the novel, appreciating Santiago's heroic spirit and skill despite his outward lack of success.
manolin cont
Manolin (cont..)
  • Santiago’s success at bringing the marlin in earns him the awed respect of the fishermen who once mocked him, and secures him the companionship of Manolin, the apprentice/disciple who will carry on Santiago's teachings long after the old man has died.
the marlin
The Marlin:
  • Although he does not speak and we do not have access to his thoughts, the marlin is certainly an important character in the novella.
  • Santiago spends the majority of the novel tracking, killing, and attempting to bring the fish to shore.
  • The marlin is larger and more spirited than any Santiago has ever seen.
  • Santiago idealizes the marlin, ascribing to it great nobility, a fish to which he must prove his own nobility if he is to be worthy enough to catch it.
  • It represents the great book Hemingway is trying to write, or the dramatic foil to Santiago's heroism.
the sea
The Sea:
  • The sea is central character in the novella.
  • Most of the story takes place on the sea, and Santiago is constantly identified with it and its creatures
  • His sea-colored eyes reflect both the sea's tranquillity and power, and its inhabitants are his brothers.
  • Santiago refers to the sea as a woman, and the sea seems to represent the feminine complement to Santiago's masculinity.
  • The sea might also be seen as the unconscious from which creative ideas are drawn.
the setting

The Setting

The time, place, and cultural environment in which the action takes place




  • "humility was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride"
  • Santiago's pride presses him to travel dangerously far out into the sea, "beyond all people in the world," to catch the marlin
  • While he loved the marlin and called him brother, Santiago admits to killing it for pride.
  • Santiago had to pay for his pride in traveling out so far in search of such a catch.
  • Pride in a job well done, even if pride drew one unnecessarily into the situation, is a positive trait.
hemingway code
Hemingway Code
  • ‘A man can be defeated but not destroyed’ - old age and death are a reality for most, but a person can still have a spiritual victory by his/her strength of will, true pride, courage, dignity, and endurance.
  • Santiago is unflinching when he is confronted by adversity, is courageous in action, and is without self-pity as he endures pain.
  • One must behave with honor and dignity, despite the hardships we endure.
artist at work symbolism
‘Artist at Work’ Symbolism
  • Santiago is symbolic of a writer fishing for the perfect story. The writer goes too far beyond his abilities and the story is too big for him to handle.
  • He wrestles with the story, trying to land the big one; when he is finished and published the critics, like sharks, pick the story apart, leaving very little to admire.
  • Even though the story is picked apart, the writer is not defeated and knows that he has done his best and has been true to himself
  • The public does not recognize the story for the greatness it offers, just as the fish is not recognized by the tourists.
man and nature or man against nature
Man and Nature or Man Against Nature
  • Santiago refers to the fish as his brother
  • Throughout his ordeal, he shows the interdependency of all beings in the natural world
  • The fish, birds, and stars are all his brothers or friends; he has the heart of a turtle, eats turtle eggs for strength, & drinks shark liver oil for health.
  • As long as he focuses on this unity and sees himself as part of nature rather than as an external antagonist competing with it, he cannot be defeated by whatever misfortunes befall him.
christian imagery
Christian Imagery
  • Hemingway links Santiago to Christ, who turned loss into gain, defeat into triumph, and even death into renewed life.
christian symbolism
Jesus Christ

disciples were fishermen

40 days w/o food; ate to live

had a solitary suffering

had no material wealth

was scourged; cuts on back (whip), head (crown of thorns), and hands (nails)

He carried His cross through the streets and fell

He was crucified, arms out

He had nails through hands

He humbled himself and let Himself be crucified

He was resurrected after three days

He had compassion, courage and love


He’s a fisherman

84 days w/o a fish; ate to live

He suffered in solitude

He had few material goods

He had cuts on his head, back, and hands from his struggle with the fish

He carried his mast and fell returning to his hut

He collapsed on floor, arms out

He felt this way when he saw the sharks

He achieved true humility

He had a three day struggle with the marlin

He had compassion, courage, and love

Christian Symbolism


Recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices which help develop the themes...

the lions on the beach
The Lions on the Beach -
  • Santiago dreams his pleasant dream of the lions at play on the beaches of Africa three times.
  • Because Santiago associates the lions with his youth, the dream suggests the circular nature of life. Additionally, because Santiago imagines the lions, fierce predators, playing, his dream suggests a harmony between the opposing forces—life and death, love and hate, destruction and regeneration—of nature.