Santiago The Marlin

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The Old Man and the Sea (1952), a Pulitzer-Prize winning novella by Ernest Hemingway, is the story of Santiago, an elderly Cuban fisherman, who struggles with a marlin far off the coast of Havana during a fishing trip in September 1950. Hemingway lived in Havana in the 1940’s, and his personal experiences in a fishing community appear to flow into the rich imagery used to describe Santiago’s daily life, giving them a sense of authenticity. Santiago goes 84 days without catching a fish, and the parents of Manolin, his younger apprentice, force the boy to go fish on a more successful boat. However, Manolin, a loyal companion, continues to help Santiago out in any way he can. Santiago’s relationship to Manolin and the struggles he endures in his…show more content…
Soon what he believes to be a marlin, takes his bait, beginning what becomes an epic clash between man and fish. For 3 days* Santiago tirelessly keeps hold of the marlin as it drags his boat through the water in an effort to break free. Finally Santiago understands the magnitude of the eighteen foot fish, when the marlin pulls with all its strength on the fishing cable, causing immense strain on Santiago 's palms and “cutting [them] badly” (Hemingway 82). This tug-of-war with the marlin impacts Santiago 's physical health tremendously; his body aches and his hands continue bleeding. The wounds he acquires on his palms connect to images of Christ’s crucifixion wounds, highlighting how each went through painful suffering and foreshadows Santiago 's eventual defeat. Towards the end of their battle, Santiago understands the strength of his competition, and says, “Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who” (Hemingway 92). Santiago’s tremendous struggle and acceptance of his potential death in this encounter relate to Jesus’ sufferings and understanding of his own tragic fate. Ultimately, Santiago defeats the marlin, but endures more suffering soon after when sharks smell the blood in the water and swim towards the boat to attack. When Santiago spots the predators, Hemingway describes the noise he makes as one “a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood” (Hemingway 107). Clearly, this reference is directly relating to Christ’s crucifixion, emphasizing Santiago’s devastating realization that he may be robbed of all of his hard work by blood-hungry sharks. These images of Christ help Hemingway to better depict the magnitude of the battle, and the physical and emotional anguish Santiago
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