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Final Impression of Triumph and Despair in “The Old man and the Sea

Uploaded by abhrapaul on Jul 15, 2006

Final Impression of Triumph and Despair in “The Old man and the Sea”



“The Old man and the Sea” develops a familiar Hemingway theme of the undefeated. Like other Hemingway treatments of the same theme, this one presents the story of the moral triumph which has as its absolutely necessary condition an apparently smashing defeat.

The message of the novel can be summed up in the following remarks of Santiago: “A man can be destroyed but not defeated”. The novel tells us the story of amoral triumph. Santiago’s experience is a manifestation of personal dignity, courage, and heroism. His faith, determination, and hope rest upon his belief in man’s infinite capacity to endure suffering.

After Santiago hooks the great marlin, he fights him with epic skill and endurance, showing “what a man can do and what a man endures”. And when the sharks came, he is determined to “fight them until I die” because he knows that ‘man is not made for defeat…”.

In searching for and in catching his big fish, Santiago gains a deepened insight into himself and into his relationship to the rest of created life. In the end he senses that there can be no victory for either in the equal struggle between them, that the conditions which have brought them together have made them one.

The struggle between the Old man and the marlin suggests the never ending battle between man and the mysterious forces of nature, the necessity of “killing and being killed”. As the struggle grows more painful, the Old man says: “you are killing me, fish. But you have a right to. Never have I seen a greater or more beautiful or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who”.

The marlin in his defeat symbolizes Santiago, who is ridiculed by younger fishermen, who is regarded as ‘strange’ and ‘unlucky’ , whose final triumph is destroyed by sharks and who broken in body and spirit, a skeleton of his former self, can only sleep and dream of the lions of his youth.

The heroic and historic battle of Santiago with the giant marlin comes with a message and this is that while a man may grow old and be wholly down on his luck, he can still dare, stick to his rules, persist when he is licked and thus by the manner of his losing,...

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Uploaded by:   abhrapaul

Date:   07/15/2006

Category:   The Old Man And The Sea

Length:   2 pages (485 words)

Views:   4105

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