Even Santiago's dreams have a heroic theme. While struggling with the marlin and experiencing great physical pain, Santiago dreams of Joe DiMaggio, the greatest ballplayer of his generation, and of lions playing on the beaches in Africa. This association with the king of ballplayers and the king of beasts adds to Santiago's heroic proportions. Santiago's heroism is also personified by the fact that he is alone when the great trial comes--his battle with the marlin. Although he repeatedly wishes the boy were there to help him, it is integral to his heroic character that he is not. Like all great heroes, he endures his struggle alone and relies on his own resources. Santiago is also similar to other Hemingway heroes in his alienation from society. He lives a solitary life, fishing by himself during the day and sleeping alone at night. He has succeeded in disengaging himself from society, preferring instead to align himself with nature. Just as Frederick Henry of A Farewell To Arms is happiest in the remote countryside, Santiago is happy at sea. Both Santiago and Henry are trying to escape life's horrors. For, even though the Hemingway hero is a big, tough, outdoor man, he is also a wounded man.
Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea tells the story of an old Cuban fisherman named Santiago. At the start of the novel, Santiago has gone eighty-four days without making a catch. The other fishermen of his village have begun to label the old man as salao, or "unlucky" (Hemingway 9). A young boy named Manolin is the only person who still has faith in Santiago's abilities. Although Manolin has helped Santiago before, his parents will no longer allow him to go out fishing with the old man. Therefore, Santiago embarks on a fishing expedition alone. In the course of this expedition, which ends up lasting three days, Santiago manages to catch the biggest marlin ever seen in the area (Machlin 136). Although the struggle for the marlin saps most of the old man's strength, his test of endurance does not end there. As he tows the huge fish home, it is attacked by shovel-nosed sharks. Santiago desperately tries to fight the sharks off, but they "eventually claim his catch" (Machlin 136). Thus, Santiago's victorious capture of the huge marlin is undermined by the defeat of it being devoured by sharks. Despite Santiago's suffering and defeat, the tone at the end of The Old Man and the Sea is one of poignant triumph. Although the old man's health is ruined by his ordeal, he is shown as being a heroic figure of sorts. In particular, Santiago is the type of hero who accepts his place and nature and who gains wisdom as a result of his sufferings.
Therefore, he has nothing substantial to show for his personal victory at sea. In Lynn's view, the popularity of Hemingway's book when it was first published can be attributed to the fact that "it expressed a collective mood of disillusionment" (566). The early 1950's was a time when Americans were experiencing frustrations in the Korean conflict. Furthermore, it was a time when the popular American hero, General Douglas MacArthur, was being forcibly removed from office by President Truman. These factors were causing the American people to reassess what their vision of the heroic ideal should be. Lynn notes that the American hero at that time still had strength and resourcefulness, but had simultaneously become older and more experienced (569). In contrast to the older model, the 1950's hero had to continue fighting in a climate of doubt and with a feeling that "there was no longer any common agreement about what the meaning of winning was, so that no victory ever brought unalloyed satisfaction" (Lynn 569).
The works of Ernest Hemingway generally center around the concept of heroism. Each of his novels contains a "Hemingway hero"--a man of honor and integrity who expresses himself not with words, but with action. The Hemingway hero is not motivated by glory or fortune, however. Hemingway's heroic figures are driven by a need to find inner peace in a modernized world that cannot provide them with the answers they seek.
The Hemingway hero is not a Godlike figure, but an ordinary, often flawed mortal who must look to himself for strength. As in The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell To Arms, Hemingway has the protagonist prove his strength by putting him in a crisis situation, usually involving a life-and-death predicament.
One can describe a hero as someone who achieves greatness. The Old Man and the Sea, a novel by Ernest Hemingway, involves an old man named Santiago,who establishes himself as a great fisherman many times, but yet, he still strugglesto prove it again and again. Santiago lives in a small fishing village off the coastof Havana, Cuba, and fishing is imperative to his survival. Although animmeasurable amount of skill is found in Santiago, eighty-four days passedwithout him hooking a single fish. Santiago refuses to give up. Santiago classifiesas a Hemingway hero. A Hemingway hero shows many qualities, includingcourage, skill, experience, pride, humility, and perseverance. Santiago qualifies asa Hemingway hero because of his courage, skill, and pride. The courageous acts of Santiago help establish his greatness. Everyone elsewould have given up when their spear broke while attacking a shark, but Santiagolashes out at the shark with his fists: When he saw the shark he leaned over the side and punched at him. He hit only meat and the hide was set hard and he barely got the knife in. The blow hurt not only his hands but his shoulder too.
Santiago's intrepid displays of courage prove him to be a Hemingway hero. As a Hemingway hero, Santiago is precise and skilled at everything he does. I can always borrow two dollars and a half. In his fury, Santiago tears off the tiller and stabs the sharks with it. drift with the current and sometimes they were at sixty fathoms when the fisherman thought they were at a hundred. But, he thought, I keep them with precision. As well as his preciseness, Santiago's pride assists him in everything that he does. Santiago displays his hate for the sharks by attacking them without remorse.