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Symbolism in Old Man and the Sea

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Jamie Goldman

on 7 May 2014

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Transcript of Symbolism in Old Man and the Sea

The Shovel-nosed sharks symbolize unworthy opponents due to their destructive nature.

In The Old Man and the Sea Santiago says to himself, "They took about forty pounds" (Hemingway 103). The mutilation of the fish shows the true destructive nature of the sharks.

*Found on multiple websites, some critics and readers believe the sharks represent literary critics. Hemingway viewed literary critics "festering" on the creation of true artists without actually creating anything themselves.

Shovel-Nosed Sharks
Arm Wrestle Between the Strongest Black Man
The arm wrestling match between Santiago and the strongest black man symbolizes Santiago's strength and commitment.

"As the sun set he remembered, to give himself more confidence, the time in the tavern at Casablanca when he had played the hand game with the great negro..." (Hemingway 69).

Santiago won the match because he has great strength, confidence and patience. While on the boat, Santiago draws strength and confidence from by remembering the match and uses it to aid him in catching the Marlin.

Manolin symbolizes pure love and compassion, he also symbolizes the circle of life. Manolin is so young yet he loves Santiago and takes care of him. When Santiago is near death in the boat, he uses the boy as something to hold onto. At the end of the novella it is apparent that when Santiago dies, his work will continue on through Manolin.

"The boy saw that the old man was breathing and then he saw the old man's hands and he started to cry. he went out very quietly to go to bring some coffee and all the way down the road he was crying" (Hemingway 122).
The Sea
The sea represents life and the struggles that every person must endure. The sea hides the marlin from Santiago as life hides important things from us and reveals them later. If you are lucky enough to receive something good from life, as Santiago receives the marlin, you must fight to the death to hold onto it.
By Jamie Goldman, Sarah Wolfe and Matt Shatto
"But he stays down forever. Then I will stay down with him forever" (Hemingway 60).

You are killing me, fish, the old man thought" (Hemingway 92).
Joe DiMaggio and the Lions
DiMaggio and the lions are symbols of motivation for Santiago. The lions are dreams from his youth and youth is what Santiago desires the most as he becomes older. DiMaggio represents Santiago's pride and strength as he too was injured with a painful bone spur but his baseball career was not affected. These two symbols inspire Santiago to overcome the challenges he faces at sea.

"'But I think the great DiMaggio would be proud of me today. I had no bone spurs. But the hands and the back truly hurt.'" (Hemmingway 97).

Symbolism in The Old Man in the Sea
The Mast

The mast symbolizes the cross. The way in which Santiago held the mast across his shoulder is parallel to the way Jesus Christ was forced to drag his cross on the way to his crucifixion.
"Then he shouldered the mast and started to climb" (Hemingway 121).
Works Cited

Gurko, Leo. "The Old Man and the Sea." College English 17.1 (1955): 11-15. JSTOR. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.

"Symbols of Old Man and the Sea." LitCharts. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. <http://www.litcharts.com/lit/the-old-man-and-the-sea/symbols>.

The Marlin

The marlin represents a worthy opponent of Santiago. Santiago knows that he must kill the marlin and it takes every ounce of his strength, courage, and determination to do so. The marlin is described by Santiago as a creature more noble than humans and Santiago also refers to the marlin as "his brother." Santiago views them as equals which adds to their worth. The marlin provides a contrast to the sharks which are unworthy opponents not worth Santiago's efforts.

"You are killing me, fish, the old man thought. But you have a right to. Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother" (Hemmingway 92).
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