Old Man and the Sea Concludes with Santiagos Death Essay
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Old Man and the Sea Essay It is believable that Santiago is dead at the end of The Old Man and the Sea. This conclusion can be deduced from the various hints Hemingway used throughout the novel. The foreshadowing of Santiago’s death, his comparison to Christ, and his bad luck helps one decipher that the death of the old man took place at the end of the book. First, something that leads the reader to believe that Santiago is dead at the end of the book is foreshadowing. One event that foreshadowed Santiago’s death was the death of the marlin. The fish and the old man displayed similar qualities of strength, bravery and determination. For instance, the old man surpassed his natural limits by staying far out at sea, while the fish…show more content…
When describing the man he said “the old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck (9)”. This depicts how old Santiago really was and how close he was to the end of his life. Hemingway also described the flag on his sail as “looking like the flag of permanent defeat (9)”. This quote foreshadows Santiago’s eventual death which was caused by going out at sea past his ordinary limits. Another component that stood out in the novel to make Santiago’s death appear evident was his image as a Christ figure. There were multiple times in the book that Hemingway compared Santiago to Christ. For example, when Santiago returns to shore, “he shouldered the mast and started to climb (121)”. This is similar to when Christ carried the cross bar on his shoulders up to Calvery. Santiago fell three times on his way back to his hut, as did Christ. Hemingway’s comparison of Santiago to Christ implies that Santiago will die just like Christ did.
In addition, Santiago’s death may have been due to the fact that he was a very unlucky man. At the very beginning of the book Santiago is described by his fellow fishermen as a “salao, which is the worst form of unlucky (9)”. Meanwhile, by the conclusion of the book his unluckiness is vastly exposed. The marlin is attacked by sharks, and then attacked again to the point of obliteration. Santiago also loses his knife to the sharks and falls three times on the way
In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway presents the fisherman Santiago as the ideal man--independent in his action, eager to follow his calling, and willing to take chances in life. The old man's most notable attribute, however, appears to be his unquenchable spirit: no matter how his body is beaten, his spirit remains undefeated, undefeatable, through all trials.
Even in his squalid existence, the old man is proud, saying that he will have fish to eat at home, even though he knows he hasn't any. He prefers hunger to shame. Also, Santiago faces risk by choosing to go "too far out." Ignoring the hardships involved in his duel with the great fish, Santiago catches the marlin, thus justifying his pride and reliance upon himself. His attitude toward this great fish shows the true extent of his honor, for he takes pride in the strength and endurance of his opponent, calling it his brother. To die battling such a powerful fish would not be dishonorable. In a strange way, Santiago loves the fish even as his kills it. The carcass of the fish is devoured by sharks, much as Santiago's body is torn; but the skeleton, along with the old man's inner spirit, remain unconquered.
As Hemingway once wrote, "Courage is grace under pressure," and this definition suits Santiago's courage perfectly. Santiago never gives in to fear or recriminations. He does not whine about his bad luck, nor does he blame the hand which temporarily betrays him, the marlin who challenges his strength, or the sharks who steal his catch. Instead, he does the best he can, without complaint or boasting. He honors the marlin for its dignity and tries to protect it against the sharks who would ravage it. To Santiago, it takes little courage to strike the sharks with his harpoon, with his oar, with his knife. He wishes only that he had brought a stone so he could keep fighting. For one brief moment, Santiago accepts defeat, saying, "I never knew how easy it is when you're beaten." But, of course, Santiago is not beaten. He has the courage left to return home, to drag himself to his hut, to face Manolin, and to accept the loss of his greatest catch. This, too, takes courage.
If DiMaggio can endure his bone spur, if the great fish can bear to pull the weight of his boat, then a simple old man can at least endure the discomforts of his existence. To Santiago, his hands, unwilling to open, responsive only to pain, have minds of their own and are traitors to his will. Even when his ordeal at sea is over, the old man, by himself, must carry home the mast of his ship, a symbol of his burden and suffering. He may be old, but he still has the endurance of El Campeon.
He dreams of days long gone by--of hand-wrestling and of golden lions on the beach of Africa. He tries to be like Joe DiMaggio who overcame pain (a bone spur) and believes the baseball player would be proud of him. Santiago has faith that he can be like the sea turtle whose heart keeps beating even in death, and so the old man will never give up. At the end "something is broken inside," but the old man's eyes remain alive. The body may be weak, temporary,vulnerable; the spirit is enduring, invincible, eternal. Although he prays and promises to say hundreds of Hail Mary's, Santiago's faith is in himself, not in God. When anyone else would give up, Santiago and Manolin have faith in each other and make plans to fish together. The very last line foreshadows the old man's renewal in his dreams about the lions of his youth.
Our battles are not with marlins, with sharks, with poverty, or even with old age; yet we all struggle against some foe at some time in our lives. Hemingway has created a character whose experience can help us in our own battles. Santiago shows us that defeat lies only in refusing the battle, not in losing the fight.