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The Old Man the Sea

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Ernest Hemingway had a significant influence on the literature of the twentieth century; many of his novels have become classics. Hemingway also influenced writing of many American authors, such as J.D. Salinger and James Joyce. He had a life, full of adventures and he was courageous and brave enough to go through all of them. Some of Hemingway’s characters possess features of character of the author himself and they show strength of will and unbreakable spirit in the challenging and sometimes even hopeless circumstances. His writing style is concrete, direct and simple, but yet powerful enough to evoke strong feelings from readers. Hemingway’s prose consists mostly of bright and concise dialogues while his descriptions of places and things are exact and simple. Thus, readers easily recognize and appreciate his style.

Famous Hemingway’s novel The Old Man and the Sea helped him to improve his literary reputation, which at that time had not been good enough and enabled Hemingway to get the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. The novel, published in 1952 was a true success. At first glance, the story seems to be very simple, and some readers may even consider it boring, but there is much more behind it. In his novel The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway uses an old fisherman's efforts for catching a huge fish as an example of an invincible fortitude, and as a proof that people can reach even unattainable goal while chasing their dreams.

Santiago was an old fisherman and many people from his village had doubts that he can still do his job. He had no luck during long time and was not able to hook any decent fish. Young man Manolin, who was his only friend and apprentice, was forced to leave Santiago and to go to a more successful fisherman. One day Santiago goes out too far into the sea in the small boat in the desperation to hook a fish (Herlihy 29).

At noon, an enormously big swordfish is hooked on the line, but the fish is too big for an old man to handle (Hemingway 72). He knows that it would be a battle between him and the forces of nature, and his great desire to survive and prove himself and others that he is not that hopeless help him in this struggle. The fish, that has also instinct to survive, drags the boat even farther to the sea. The battle lasts for almost two days (Herlihy 34). He is exhausted, wounded by a line that stretches across his back, has no food but still does not give up. Moreover, Santiago has a respect and admiration for his fish (Hemingway 68).

Finally, Santiago manages to kill the fish that was exhausted by the battle. Still the story was far from the happy end. The fish was too big to fit into the boat, so its blood attracted sharks. Fisherman had to defeat himself from the sharks, but at the end they ate the flesh off the fish. By the time Santiago managed to get back to shore, there was only the skeleton of the fish left. However, it was a victory for him; he at least had an evidence of being not that hopeless fisherman as many thought of him. This experience had changed him and strengthened his hope. Santiago then became determined in his position not to give up.

Hemingway had his own strong and vivid style of writing which millions of readers all over the world value high, and love. His characters are often examples for great respect and admiration. He was definitely one of the most adventurous writers. He strived to explore this world, and lived his life as how he wanted to live.

The story is very simple but touching. It evokes deep feelings and emotions of readers, like compassion for an old fisherman, admiration of the strength of his character and determination to win. His refuse to give up in the difficult and stressful situation can be a good example for many much younger people nowadays (Weeks  191).

There are major themes that Ernest succeeded to highlight in this book. This connote the type of past he experienced. First is Heroism. Despite of all the trials Santiago had to go through, he never gives up. This is a strong character seen in the author, Ernest Hemmingway. Despite of holding onto the fishnet for two days, Santiago never throws in the towel because he was determined to make a meal out of his catch, regardless of what happened. This is an illustration of strong will and determination in what one is doing. It is a message of strong will and endurance.

Another very outstanding and closely related to the heroism is manhood. As evident from the book, the old man the sea, there is an element of manhood. Considering that Santiago was an old man and managed to pull through the ordeal that takes two days to end, he still holds on the rope with determination not to let go. It proves that he is a real man, which was also exhibited by Ernest Hemmingway. This shows us that Santiago was not only a hero, but a man as well. Even when the sharks come after the carcass of the dead fish, Santiago still holds onto the hopes that he will make it back to the shores alive, which he did, albeit without his “big fish”. This is a show of strong will and determination, which Ernest showed throughout his lifetime.

The other theme that is clearly documented in this book is the concept of pride. Santiago is a man who has a lot of pride. For this reason, he sets out deep into the sea beyond all the people in the world to catch the marlin. Santiago admits to killing the marlin for pride. Contrarily, even after losing his catch to the sharks, Santiago never swallows his pride and fights to the point where he returns to shore. Ernest Hemmingway was a man of great pride and never let whatever situation hold him down.

Ernest Hemmingway draws a clear theme of success. Santiago went deep into the fishing grounds in search of Marlin. It was a success for him, though his catch was too big to fit into his boat. He does not freeze his efforts from this point, but hold onto the fish for a painstaking two days until the sharks attacked the carcass. Fighting for his life until he gets back to shore is an illustration of success, since even if Santiago came back with no evidence of his catch but the skeletons, he still comes back with his life. In spite of all he had to go through, he comes back triumphant, with his pride high on his achievements. This is an illustration of success that comes at the end of hard ordeals.

Another theme that stands out is the concept of worthiness. In the book, Santiago has a fire thirst inside him to prove to Manolin that he could kill the Marlin, in all its might. Santiago goes ahead to prove his worthiness but going into unfamiliar grounds in search of the fish. He eventually manages to catch the Marlin, even if it was disappointing that he did not have his meal, but he proved his worthiness by killing the Marlin. This is a strong message to that Ernest succeeded to mask in the story the old man and the sea.

Ernest Hemmingway was born in a very humble Christian family of six children. As a kid, he had interests in fishing and hunting that explained why he always accompanied his father to the forest hunting trips. Hemmingway reflected his past in the book The Old man and the sea, as a connotation of his fathers’ daily struggle with the sea winds and currents, of which he never backed down from. This is a character of resilience and strong will, which has no room for failure. It is reflected in Santiagos’ never-ending determination. Ernest Hemmingway was a determined persona as it is illustrated in his past. In spite of a troubled past, he raised above all the challenges and emerged a victor in life.  Throughout his childhood life, Hemingway’s’ desire was to become a well renowned and highly respected character, a dream which materialized. In his other books, for example Papa, he still paints a picture of himself. He acquired this nickname from his peers. This influenced his writing of the book Papa, where he exuded the traits of an adventurer, of which Ernest Hemmingway truly was in his tender ages. 

The author whom I will write a comparison on is Charles Dickens, the renowned author of the book Oliver Twist, published in 1838, which is considered one of the best-known selling books by this author and was well received by readers worldwide. Dickens uses satirical characters and events that point to a particular social evil between the people depicted in the book, as well that government institution that had a seriously flawed judicial system. According to Dickens, he had not written the book to offer solutions to the societal inadequacies, but all he was doing was singling them out for the people to see what a morally decadent society they were living in. Dickens believed that everyone had a good part in them, but was mostly corrupted by the influences of our immediate surroundings. As a young lad, Dickens had one of the roughest upbringings, considering the fact that he was from a financially unstable family and had to do menial jobs to foot his daily bills. This is what Charles Dickens tries to depict in the book, Oliver Twist. He tries to unearth how the poor and destitute in the society are usually looked down upon and often exploited, which likens his upbringing experiences. This included long spells of poverty, which tagged along hunger and homelessness, which resulted to societal evils in the society. This extreme depravation brought crimes that corroded the human nature that Dickens viewed as “good”, and replaced them with evil. This is the point at which Dickens says the society is completely dehumanized. I strongly believe that Charles Dickens wrote this book to show the blinded world of the tribulations that the weak in society go through with each passing day (Cliffnotes).

The book is about a boy, Oliver Twist born into an impoverished society filled with pitifully suffering individuals. He is immediately thrown into a children’s orphanage where he leads an undernourished life. He is raised by a Mrs. Mann, alongside many more orphans. After becoming of age, Twist leaves his village of birth and travels to London, almost dying in the process by freezing. He encounters a boy, Artful Dodger while travelling and they become friends. Twist later discovers that they share a common past; both are orphans and still share a common goal, seeking for protection. In the search for protection, Dodger and his friends depend on a criminal known as Fagin, who provides them with shelter, food as well as clothing at no charges at all. They do not know about how Fagin provided their needs until he teaches them how to steal in their home and later takes them to the streets. This becomes a part of them until Oliver realizes that what they are doing is not the right thing. His fate is postulated by what he does not want to commit; crime! However, the society has taught them to do that; they are just trying to find a way round the harsh society they live in. In the wake of his stealing career, he is thrown into a jail where he is bailed out by Mr. Brownlow, and offers him a place to stay.

Here, Twist meets Nancy, a female member of Fagin’s ring. After Oliver is caught stealing and this is when Nancy actually realizes the fact that she was exploited when she was younger and saw in Twist a ruined life. She grasps this chance for her to save herself and Twist from further exploitation. It is here that Twist changes his life around and lives one full of happiness with good people. Nancy dies of exploitation from the wrong choices she made in the past.

From this story, it is easy to see that Charles Dickens’ story relates to almost everything he has gone through as a child. He was born in a society that had the least in resources, which is brought out in the book as the theme of poverty. He was always living in temptations to steal from his neighbor that came as an influence from the friends we spend all our time with. This explains why Twist found himself in a gang of thieves, not from choice, but desperation. This is another theme brought out in the book. Desperate situations call for desperate measures, as it is always said. This reflects back to Dickens childhood where his peers coerced him to steal from people and older people who were gang members.

As evident from the two books, both authors, Ernest Hemmingway and Charles Dickens create a vivid picture of their personal experiences. They both write their experiences but use different symbols in the form of characters to unmask the societal evils that no one seems to be noticing. They both write in order to pass hidden teachings that often are presented as themes to the relevant narrations. For someone like Charles Dickens, his pointing out of the societal suffering, extreme poverty, illegitimate children to women who had babies out of wedlock, is not out of Christian values. He taught his personal experiences. As is the case with Ernest Hemmingway, who in his book, the old man and the sea, who also gave an account of his personal experiences by coining the book. The relevance is that, no matter the present situation, never throw in the towel because there is a sunny day at the end of a long rainy spell. The same applies to twist whose life changer for the better once he decided to make that change in his life. Both the authors narrate their stories in both the books and this really adds literary value to literature.

Another theme that that comes out clean in the book Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens is the theme of perseverance. Regardless of the harsh upbringing that Twist experiences, he still rises above all odds to become successful and highly celebrated as a writer. This is reflective of the author of the book. Charles Dickens had humble beginnings but used all odds to his advantage and used them as a catapult to make his life better. Another theme that Charles Dickens succeeded in laying emphasis o is the continued battle between good and evil. Twist is born in an environment where good and bad people co exists. Due to the harsh economic times, Twist has his good morals corrupted by working for a local thief, who they look up to for shelter and food. This moral decadence is not a choice, but comes because of negative influence from his surroundings. This theme creates a battle between the good and the evil, until good emerges victor at the end of it all. This is a reflection of Charles Dickens upbringing, where he always faced with challenges of deciding between what is good and what is not. This is a theme well highlighted in the book.

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