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A Slant On

, “The Old Man And The Sea” Essay, Research Paper

Santiago: A Perfect Role Model for Manolin

In the novel, “The Old Man and the Sea”, Hemingway builds a character

that is easily comparative to any great hero or idol in history. This character,

named “Santiago” displays the characteristics needed to conquer his battles

or at least do all he can to achieve his goals.

This is especially important considering the fact that he is looked at as a

mentor of sorts by another character, the young boy named ?Manolin.?

Manolin has known the old man since the age of five. As a protege to

Santiago, Manolin has grown to have a great deal of respect for the old man.

This is represented by the boy?s eagerness to stand by the old man?s side no

matter what the situation is.

Santiago is the epitome of the human will, and a display for how courage

and perseverance are able to win over difficulties that seem nearly impossible

to overcome.

Early in the novel, we see that the old man has fallen onto hard times in

his fishing profession. This is not the first time this has happened though. It

has been many days since his last catch and the situation looks very bleak to

those who do not know the old man?s desire and courage. They see the

“wrinkles”, and “cancer blotches” of an old man, but not the eyes, which

“have remained unchanged.” Most of

the townspeople know of Santiago?s seeming dismay, and their reactions to

this are somewhat split. A good portion of the townspeople and fellow

fishermen sympathize for Santiago and maintain a great deal of respect for

this fallen hero. But the others shun him and his cursed fishing luck. They

are superstitious and feel that he brings a dark cloud to loom over the village

that will curse all of them with his exact bad luck. However, it is clear to the

reader that it is what Santiago possesses, which the pessimistic fishermen do

not, that gives the old man an overall advantage. This prized possession is

identified by the reader as a strong will. It appears that Santiago has always

coveted the strong will. Once known as “El Campeon”, because of his

remarkable arm-wrestling and fishing abilities, it appears that he still obtains

this strong will inside him.

As a humanitarian in the truest sense, he was more than willing to teach

the young Manolin everything he knew of fishing while Manolin was just a

very young child. In return, a great deal of admiration was formed by

Manolin in recognition for the befriending by Santiago. Presently, however,

Manolin, like many of the other fishermen isn?t perfectly clear on how to

react to the old man?s predicament. He realizes that the old man is in an

incredibly awful fishing drought, but he also remembers their perseverance in

the past and the rewards they reaped for it. He decides that he will choose

not to listen to others such as his father and what they have to say, and

continue in support of his friend. As a sign of his loyalty, Manolin first asks

the old man if he may accompany him on his next day?s trip to sea. At first

this plea is turned down by the old man. But after further bargaining and a bit

of reminiscing of better times, the old man agrees to some help from the boy.

The reluctance by Santiago shows his care for the boy?s well-being. It is

only the man?s confidence in his redemption that allowed him to finally

accept the boy?s offer of help.

Santiago?s certainty in this “redemption” is bewildering to some, while

Manolin has no trouble grasping the idea. This is because the qualities that

have been instilled into the boy are the same as the old man?s. They are truly

thinking on the same wavelength. This separates, or isolates them from the

rest of the village; but neither the boy nor the man really cares.

Later in the book comes the hardest test of Santiago?s mental and

physical strengths. Finally, his chance for redemption, comes in the form of a

VERY large fish. In fact, it is the largest fish the old man has ever attempted

to catch. A great battle between the old man and the fish begins. This battle,

however, is not one fueled by rage and frustration, but rather by courage and

wills. The old man and the fish are similar in certain aspects. These aspects

are recognized by the old man, and this is why the battle is such an honorable

one seemingly on both ends of the rope. “There is a difference between

?killing? and the ceasing of letting an animal die.”

Santiago knows this, and he is well determined to bring in the mighty fish,

and understandably so. “When an individual sees that all finite centers and

loyalties are fleeting and incapable of being lasting objects of faith, then he

will renounce all previous efforts in despair, repent in humility, and gratefully

make the movement of faith by which alone his life can become meaningful

and worthwhile.” Yet at the same time his

respect for the fish and honor of his own character smothers any chances of

pure gratification for the redemption that would be the killing of the fish.

Santiago found honor in everything he did. He was not a beggar; though

he had much to beg for. He was not a quitter; though failure long stared him

in the eyes. Most importantly, he was a caring man. He cared for himself

and others equally. It was easy to see that these traits had indeed been

passed down to Manolin. Just as the old man found no “loss of true pride”

in his failures, the boy found likewise in

his friendship with the old man. After all, in Hemingway?s “search for wider

social meaning”, “The Old Man and the Sea”

showed it is not success that determines one?s worth. It is, as the boy and the

man both knew, character that is the true determiner.


A) Klemke, E.D. “The Meaning of Life” New York: Oxford University

Press 1981, p. 166

B) “Hemingway” Compton?s Pictured Encyclopedia, vol. GH Chicago: 1957

p. 378

C) Hemingway, Ernest “The Old Man and the Sea” New York: Simon & Schuster 1995

D) Singer, Peter “Applied Ethics” New York: Oxford University

Press 1986, p. 87-88

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