The Old Man And The Sea

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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The Old Man in the Sea by Ernest Hemingway illustrates the wisdom and life experiences of an old fisherman who seeks for his unanswered goals in the sea and its creatures. The main characters are the old man, the boy, the marlin fish, and the sea. The characters symbolize mankind, a helping hand or friend, a goal to accomplish, and the road we take to success. These characters all symbolically arrange the old man's life. In this work, Hemmingway uses the literary technique of symbolism to portray life.

Throughout the story the old man is determined to catch the marlin. The marlin fish symbolizes the man's goal. "The old man had stayed with him a day, a night, a day, and another night while the fish swam deep and pulled the boat." This passage relates to the thesis because the old man spent over 87 days determined to catch the fish and accomplished his goal.

Like the old man we all a "big fish" to catch.

In the story, the sea acts like the old fisherman's adventurous place where all of his life experiences are acted out. The sea symbolizes the road we must take to achieve our goal. It is the guiding path which we follow like the old man portrays in the story. The sea and its creatures become his home and friends. "But the old man always thought of her as feminine and as something that gave or withheld great favors, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them." This passage illustrates the old man's feeling toward the sea; like any road it may be dangerous with sharp turns or it may lead you directly to you destined location.

The shark play an important part in the story. They symbolize the obstacles that we must overcome to catch the "big fish". In the story the shark disrupt the peaceful sea and eat the old man's marlin fish. The old man finally accomplishes his goal, but then loses it as quickly as he gains it. Although, the old man did accomplish his goal by catching the fish the sharks were a great obstacle which almost ruined his achievement.

In life we all have a "big fish" to catch and a "sea" to guide us. Life is full of obstacles which we must overcome to reach our goal. Like the old man he regains his pride by showing everyone that he is capable of doing. He did accomplish his goal just by going out there on the sea for days and days even though there were obstacles he faced. Even though the sharks ate the fish, the feeling of trying and do what you want is illustrated in this story. Hemmingway illustrates old age facing life and death with courage and wisdom.