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Characterization and Setting in The Old Man and the Sea Essay


The writers job is to tell the truth, is a phrase the great American author once said. Many American Writers speak true to this ideal by creating novels, poems, and short stories with strong American themes. One theme that Ernest Hemingway uses often is the theme of the American dream. Another theme widely used by Hemingway is the spirit of renewal. Heming way shows the American spirit of renewal through the relationship of Santiago and Manolin, his apprentice. Santiago teaches Manolin how to fish, thus showing renewal through the teaching of the nest generation. Also in the novel Hemingway writes that, the old man was dreaming of the lions the old man still has dreams of the lions on the shores of Africa as a young boy and how one day hed like to see them again (Gale). With this symbolism he shows the spirit of renewal has taken place and the hope for tomorrow. Hemingway uses this novella as a symbol of hope for others and himself; he uses it to persuade others that life does not end at old age. He once said that it isnt hard to die, reflecting on the slow weakening and fragility of the body through old age, which he greatly feared. The fight between the marling and Santiago is a sysmbol of the fight between life and death, and a fught between defeating age and whining and complaining in a hospital bed (Cooperman).

Using setting and structure, The Old man and the Sea is a novella that shows human life in its basic elements shown by the struggle of the old man, Santiago and his hunt to end his eighty-five days of bad luck, which he uses to inspire hope and the important of persistence despite tragedy through the main characters big dreams and ill-luck.

The American author Ernest Hemingway once said, I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.(Hemingway). Hemingway was a vey controversial writer, but also a very controversial person in his time. He was born July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois. In his teens he became interested in literature and wrote a weekly column for his high school news paper and contributed poems and short stories for the school magazine. After graduation he took a junior reporter job for the Kansas City Star, and began to form his journalism career which he used in his writing style. Later he fought in World War I, and wounded both of his legs by shrapnel in the front lines. This event greatly impacted his writing. As a young boy he was schooled and became an expert in the fields of war, bullfighting, deep-sea fishing, boxing and big game hunting. These teachings obviously impacted his writing; Hemingway has a very macho and violent style (Cooperman). Hemingway lived recklessly, and extravagantly, often getting into fist fights and quarrels. He spent much of his life in foreign countries like Spain, Italy, and Cuba (where The Old Man and the Sea was set in). He has three failed marriages, a debilitating drinking addiction and reoccurring physical ailments. In 1960 he had a breakdown and he was sent to a clinic, and his beliefs led him to take his own life in 1961.

His writing, although to some seems shallow, insensitive, terse, and full of violence and machishmo, seems to have and fully realized fictional world, and subtle allusions to many major themes in American literature (Cooperman). In his novella The Old Man and the Sea he turns his harsh themes of heroism and war into a narrower focus of an old mans struggle to catch a great marlin, fight age, and fight against the unpredictable elements. Ernest Hemingway uses this novella as an agent of change, through his character Santiago (Gale). Santiago purses fishing even though hes aged greatly and has suffered eighty-five days of not catching a single sellable fish. The novel is also used as a witness of change by showing the old mans hope for another day even though the marlin he had caught was devoured by scavengers of the sea.

The Old man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingways third novel, is a story of an old man, Santiago, and his adventure to fight age and bad luck. The novels two greatest literary elements are structure and characterization (Cooperman). Hemingway uses time and structure to its fullest by creating a five day, three part structure. With this three part structure he shows the change through.

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