The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway
The Old Man and the Sea Theme of Respect and Reputation
Although he does not recognize it himself, the stakes of the battle with the marlin are so high thanks to the the notion of respect. The old man derives respect from others with displays of strength and prowess. Santiago himself feels great awe and respect for the marlin, repeatedly emphasizing this during his struggle and after he has killed the fish. Additionally, the old man’s friendships are based on a sense mutual respect. Aretha Franklin would be proud.
Questions About Respect and Reputation
- So, these other fishermen – do they respect the old man, or think he’s just an old unlucky washed-up former champion?
- What does the old man get respect for? What does he respect in others? Are they different, or similar?
- Does the old man’s respect for the marlin help him win the battle, or hinder him?
Chew on This
The old man respects the fish because the fish has all the attributes he himself lost in old age.
The old man persists in killing the marlin simply because he wants the respect of others.