Thursday, March 11, 2010


In today's society we face many struggles everyday. It may be a relatively small struggle to make a decision such as whether you are going to get out of bed this morning, or as big as deciding what college to go to. Then there are physical struggles such as getting in shape for a sport. Either way, the end result is one of three outcomes; you put the decision off, you fight through it and "survive," or you give up and are defeated. In The Old Man in the Sea Santiago face many struggles. Some of those struggles include his physical limitations, his lack of sleep, and lack of proper equipment, and outside factors such as sharks.

Throughout The Old Man and the Sea Santiago is referred to as an old man and Hemingway even goes to the extent of having Santiago call himself an old man. When an person gets older it's common knowledge that physical limitations come with that ripeness. Santiago knows that: " 'I am too old to club sharks to death" (112). This means that even though he found just enough strength to pull the gargantuan fish from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico, doesn't mean he has enough left in him to fight off sharks while paddling back to Havana, Cuba. Santiago recognized this when he said that. He doesn't just simply mean that he is too old. He is explaining that his old age gives him physical limitations which includes the inability to fend off sharks in the dead of night.

Not only did his physical abilities prevent that, but he hadn't had sleep in two days either. Santiago knew that, because he recognized that he had to get some sleep to provide him energy for what ever was ahead. For example he needs just those couple hours of rest to pull the marlin onto its back: "Now let me get through the eating of this dolphin and get some rest and a little sleep (79). There are steps to realizing this too, and he follows them exactly. He sub-consciously knows he is tired and starts to feel its affect. Then he realizes he is tired consciously and knows he has to do something about it such as getting some shut-eye (represented by the quote above.

He didn't only have those restricted abilities and a lack of much needed sleep though. he also didn't have all the necessary supplies for going on a three day fishing expedition. He had lack of water, a somewhat decent fishing pole, or food and water. Thus he had to resort to eating raw fish (as stated in the above quote from page 79) and rationing his water. The result: “He was thirsty too and he got down on his knees and, being careful not to jerk on the line, moved as far into the bow as he could get and reached the water bottle with one hand" (78). For a while he was able to withstand the lack of water, but after a while it got to much for him and he had to take a sip. While doing that he couldn't move the line either though so he couldn't just relax for a minute while taking that little swig.

Through all of this Santiago faced another problem too though; one that was out side of his control: sharks. He had been fishing for three days fighting a 1500 pound mountain without proper equipment, sleep or strength. So you would think that maybe he would get a somewhat peaceful paddle back to Havana, but no. When a marlin, or any fish for that matter, gets a harpoon through the heart they are going to start to bleed. So when you drag that fish through the water the oceans meat-lovers, sharks, are going to jump at the opportunity to take a chunk for themselves, especially form a fish of that caliber. Santiago knew this would happen too and his beliefs came true: "When the old man saw him coming he knew that this was a shark that had no fear at all and would do exactly what he wished” (101). So not only did he know the shark was coming, but he knew the shark would do what he pleased, which was to rip a huge hunk of meat from the award winning marlin which had been so generously prepared for them. Santiago knew this would happen though and was prepare with a weapon. He had met them before, knew their ways, and could counter, but only for so long. At about the tenth shark Santiago finally had to give up.

So even though Santiago was faced with many adversities during his trip out at sea, he struggled and fought his way through them. That is just what we should do too. In our everyday lives we are face with many obstacles as well; they may not be as extreme, but that doesn't make them less important. In fact it is all the more important that we should fight our way through them just as Santiago did. So whether it be a matter deciding for college, or getting in shape for a sport, take a lesson from The Old Man and the Sea and give it your all to succeed, even if you don't. Just make sure you are better prepared!

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