Portrayal of Hemingway's Personal Traits in The Old Man and the Sea Trough His Main Character Santiago

Essay by AzarielUniversity, Bachelor's February 2005

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Hemingway's novel "The Old Man and the Sea" has been awarded with Pulitzer and Nobel prizes correspondently in 1953 and 1954. It is considered to be one of the most successful literary works ever written by this writer. Though the main plot of the story tells about a Cuban fisherman's struggle with marlin, the story itself is highly autobiographical and in the background contains many elements taken from the author's life. Hemingway uses the character Santiago to portray himself by giving him multiple personal traits.

To interpret the simple story of Santiago and see how he represents the author, one must know the experiences and values of Hemingway. Participation in both WW1 and WW2 has heavily influenced him as a person and a book writer. War for Hemingway became a symbol of courage, honor, and great endurance essential for one's survival and well-being in this world. The themes of making right decisions under pressure, surviving alone in hostile environment, and coming out a winner even after loosing a battle can be clearly observed in the book.

As the author makes Santiago experience these misfortunes, he actually tells his life's story full of tragic and painful moments he had to overcome in order to survive and continue to live.

Throughout his life, Hemingway has always thrived in physical competition. One of his lifetime hobbies was Spanish bullfighting, in which he saw not only a struggle between a human and a beast, but a struggle for life and dominance between nearly equal competitors. Always competing in games of strength like wrestling and arm fighting, he mostly enjoyed a simple yet so engaging and blood rushing struggle of will of two worthy rivals against one another. And the episode when Santiago recalls one of the arm wrestling matches he came...