The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway: Santiago, the Man of Many Roles

Essay by arkypittmanHigh School, 11th gradeA+, May 2004

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Santiago: A Man of Many Roles

You know those people who you love and your mom hates? How you respect them yet they are despised by your mom? Why do your opinions of them differ? It is because of the perspective that you see them with. Your mom sees them as extremely dangerous because they ride motorcycles, wear leather jackets, and have a million tattoos, but you see them as incredibly fun because that is what your generation has come to accept. In Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago is a man who is seen differently through different perspectives. Santiago can be seen as himself, through the perspective of a simple reader who is not looking for a deep, concealed significance; a hero, through the perspective of a Greek tragedy/epic novelist; a saint, through the perspective of a religious cleric; or a parent, through the perspective of a naturalist.

Santiago can be seen as himself in a simple reader's point of view. According to Leonard Unger, Santiago's message, "while a man can grow old and be wholly down on his luck, he can still dare, stick to the rules, persist when he is licked, and thus by the manner of his losing, win his victory" (256), signifies Santiago's story. He loses his luck for catching fish, but still dares to continue fishing, persisting in catching the marlin. Even though he did not manage to bring it home whole, he is nonetheless victorious because he did all he could to succeed and ended up catching his great fish. The story may, on the simplest level, be the tale of a man out at sea and his battle with the awesome power of nature, and how it will often win outright over the man (Grif). A matador battles...