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In a fight for survival, strength, endurance, and wits, Ernest Hemingway describes the trek of protagonist, Santiago, an old-fashioned Cuban fishermen. In the 1952 novella, The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago is unable to catch any fish for eighty-four days despite his high fishing expertise. Through his descriptive words and gripping sentences, Hemingway carries the reader through to witness the events unfold as Santiago's dry spell comes to an end.

Unlike Santiago whose self-confidence plummets a little more each day that he does not catch a fish, Manolin, Santiago's apprentice, admires his master with great reverence for his wits and patience. One day, the men decide it is time to end this eighty-four day dry spell, and Santiago sets sail to the most grueling and heroic battle with nature he has even experienced in his life. Displaying his determination to end his spell of bad luck, the man sails out farther than any other fishermen has in order to guarantee a successful catch. After dropping his lines in the Gulf Stream, Santiago feels a bite that could only be from one fish--a marlin, the biggest marlin Santiago has ever seen. With the combination of the enormity of the fish to the less than perfect strength of Santiago's aging body, the man struggles for his life to reel the marlin in. But due to Santiago's amazing pride and mental strength, he chooses to go head to head with the fish rather than selling his soul to the marlin. And for three long days and nights, that is exactly what Santiago does. Ironically, it is the beast himself that motivates Santiago to defy the odds of defeat. Throughout the novella, Hemingway conveys his philosophical views on the world. While death might be unavoidable, if one can summon the power from within and couple it with a determined mind set then he can overcome even the toughest of struggles in life. "But man is not made for defeat," states Santiago, "a man can be destroyed but not defeated."


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Santiago's actions can also be explained through Charles Darwin's idea of survival of the fittest. It's Santiago's struggle to survive that pushes him to ultimately kill the marlin and to not be the marlin's kill. It is also his pride and determination to end his eighty-four days of poor luck that leads him to the victorious end of a three day battle. Yet his battle isn't over yet. Read Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea to experience the rest of Santiago's prideful, endurance filled journey unfold.

While its size might be deceiving, this novella is stuffed with great symbolism and foreshadowing. Hemingway has left us with a great story room for juicy discussion