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The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea

  

by Ernest Hemingway

 Table of Contents

The Old Man and the Sea Themes

The Old Man and the Sea Themes

Perseverance

Perseverance: Bringing man and fish together since 1952. The old man’s battle with the fish is not only a battle of strength, but a battle of wills. The old man makes up for his old age with incr...

Suffering

In The Old Man and the Sea, the ability to withstand physical pain is one of Santiago’s defining characteristics. Uh...cool? We're just happy that's not our defining characteristic. But for...

Strength and Skill

One interesting question in The Old Man and the Sea is whether physical strength is as important as skill and experience. That's right, it's the timeless question: Brains or brawn? The old man...

Pride

In The Old Man and the Sea, pride and humility are not mutually exclusive qualities. The old man is declaratively characterized as humble, yet he "suffers no loss of pride" in being so. Later, howe...

Memory and the Past

Memory is a dominant theme in The Old Man and the Sea. Santiago may be old, but he can recall the strength and prowess of his youth. At first we wonder if such elements have faded from his characte...

Defeat

Is the old man defeated? This is a persistent question by the end of the story. The Old Man and the Sea asks its readers to define defeat, to struggle with what it really means to be beaten. Intere...

Isolation

Lonely, he's Mr. Lonely...The old man lives his life isolated from most people—especially during his time on the sea. This isolation defines who he is, and emphasizes the unique nature of his cha...

Man and the Natural World

The old man is unique in his relationship to and understanding of the natural world. He talks about the sea as though it were a woman, the birds as friends, the sharks as personal enemies. He exami...

Hunger

The old man is almost superhuman in his eating patterns. He never professes hunger despite eating very little—or not at all. For him, eating is not about pleasure, but is instead a painful act th...

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 st...

Luck

The Old Man and the Sea begins with a declaration that the old man is unlucky. He agrees, too. But by the end of the story the reader is left wondering what it really means to be lucky or unlucky,...

Friendship

In The Old Man and the Sea, friendship is always based on mutual respect. The old man’s relationship with the boy is characterized as "love," and Manolin expresses deep admiration for the old man...

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