Symbolism In The Old Man And The Sea

Ans:- The Old Man and the Sea is a symbolical novel. Hemingway has been governed by reason and has an appetite for facts, but he has also attempted to explicate a deeper meaning of life with the help of suggestion and symbolism. Symbolism In The Old Man And The Sea

The novelist makes a judicious blend of symbolism and realism in his novels. A Farewell to Arms. Who are the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea?

Symbolism In The Old Man And The Sea
Symbolism In The Old Man And The Sea

Read more from English 2nd Year (click) The Old Man and the Sea have introduced a limited use of symbolism. The story of the novel blends naturally and symbolism.
Santiago’s fight with the marlin, a real incident, has been the basis of the Marvel. Hemingway tries to make a real old man, a real boy, a real sea, and a real fish and real sharks. But all these mean many things more.

Analysis of Symbols in The Old Man and the Sea

Man’s struggle with life and the universe in The Old Man and the Sea

The old man Santiago is a real fisherman. Hemingway knew such a man who had once caught a huge marlin. His struggle with the fish represents a man’s struggle with the life and universe.

In this battle with Ithe environment, it is not the victory or the end which matters, The old man’s marlin has been eaten away by the fierce sharks whkh have been clubbed and harpooned by the old man.

He is exhausted and fatigued and left only with the skeleton. But what is important in his case is that he has braved the difficulties and struggles with the circumstances to realize his object.

In the battle with it, it is the conscientious efforts put in for the realization of the aim which counts. Moreover, the old man has attained certain virtues, the valor, courage, dignity, and humility.

He is conscious of the fact that man has not been made for defeat. In his voyage on the high seas, he has cultivated many more virtues. In his adversity, he.has developed a fellow feeling for the fishes and the birds of the Gulf Stream.

He has learned moral lessons and has imbibed fortitude, endurance, and humility of a true Christian.

The Old Man and the Sea Symbolism

Christian symbolism in The Old Man and the Sea

There is Christian symbolism in the novel. Santiago can be viewed as an image of Jesus Christ. The old man cherishes the Christ-like virtues-humility, service, pride, and pity.

He has taught the boy fishing and cultivated in him these qualities, In the novel, The Old Man, and the Sea, there are many allusions to the old man’s similarities with Christ. Joseph Waldmeir has traced a few of them.

“During the trials with the great fish, with the sharks, his hands pain him terribly, and his chest constricts and he spits blood. He hooks the fish at noon, and at noon of the third day, he kills it by driving his harpoon into its heart.

As he sees the second and the third shark attack, the old man calls aloud’ Ay’, and Hemingway comments:: “There is no translation for this word and perhaps it is just such a noise as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hand and into the wood.”

On landing, the old man shoulders his mast and goes upward from the sea towards his hut: he is forced to rest several times on this journey up the hill and when he reaches the hut he lies on the bed “with his arms outstretched and the palms of his hands up.”

The old man’s cry ‘Ay’ cannot be translated into words. It reminds us of the noise made by a person whose hand is being nailed into a piece of wood.

Here Christ’s image is evident and further the old man shouldering his mast On his journey to the hut recalls Christ carrying the Cross’. Santiago lies down in his hut with his arms stretched and palms of his hands up.

There are many allusions to the Christiao’ practkes traced’ by Waldmeir. Even in the numerology, a plan has been traced and significance discovered: “Three, seven and forty are key-numbers in the Old and New Testaments.

The old man, as the story opens, has fished alone for forty-four days and with the boy for forty more. The old man’s trial with the great fish lasts exactly three days; the fish is landed on the seventh attempt; seven sharks are killed, and, although Christ fell only three times under the Cross, the old man has to rest from the weight of the mast seven times, there is consistency in the equal importance of the numbers themselves.

Symbolism in Ernest Hemingway

Symbolism In The Old Man And The Sea
Symbolism In The Old Man And The Sea

The symbolism of manHness of man in The Old Man and the Sea

The numerals used may have religious significance and the old man may resemble Christ in his sufferings, yet it is not meant to be a book of theology, and Hemingway is not adumbrating any Christian doctrines.

He has no faith in the orthodox religion. Waldmeir rightly believes that his object is the delineation of The Religion of Man, The old man is not an orthodox follower of religion, He offers prayers and utters, “Ha’il Marys are easier to say than Our Fathers.”

But he says he is not religious. In the novel, Hemingway has brought in prayer and the problem of God, but it is his interest in man which has absorbed his attention in most of his novels and short stories.

It is the manliness of man, the power of determination, endurance, and courage which have caught his imagination. The Hemingway heroes are brave, courageous, valiant, endowed with strength, and firmness.

If a person depends on prayers and God too much for the realization of his aim, it is a negation of manliness. The old man fights with his prey valiantly and undergoes pain and suffering.

He prepares his own code of conduct and observes his own rules and rituals. He follows his own procedure in catching the marlin. The fish has been caught.

He allows the marlin to eat it fully and keeps the line across the back. He follows a set rule. It is the duty and the struggles of man which have engrossed Hemingway fully.

The symbols of lions and Dimaggio in The Old Man and the Sea

There are other symbols too in the novel. The repeated visions of the young lions seen on the African beaches stand for purity and primitivism as a contrast with the busy life of man.

This recurrent dream instills vitality and strength in him. The old man’s thought goes to the baseball and its outstanding player Dimaggio in the movement of his struggle.

Dimaggio’s bone-spur transformed him into a hero, and he becomes the symbol of one who has emerged as a hero through his suffering. Harada has traced deeper meaning in the bone-spur of Dimaggio.

“It reminds us, for instance, of Odysseus’s scar, Achilles wound o one of the anagnorisis scenes in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus. The significance of analogy lies-

(1) these heroes are all ‘noble’ characters and do the actions of proper’magnitude’. As Aristotle points out, and

(2) scars on their feet are used to bring about their own identity in one way or another…Now, what strikes the old man concerning Dimaggio is, as we have seen, that the latter despite his pain in his heel, endured the suffering and achieved greatness.

His bone spur is a reminder of the nobleness of action and of what a man can do and what a man endures.”

Dimaggio attains heroic proportions through his nobility, bone spur, and affinity with Odysseus and Achilles. The old man through his Christ-like suffering, and cramped hand, and aching back -has discovered an identity in the hero. He emulates his example and is strengthened.

Discuss Hemingway’s symbolism in The Old Man and The Sea

The symbol of the fish in The Old Man and the Sea

The old man conscious of his present predicament hasJought and struggled to hook the marlin: He is engrossed in the ‘permanent now. The fish caught is grand and magnificent.

It symbolizes some priceless find. Harada observes” “He has to kill him because it is a kind of sacrifice to complete the ritual, and the sacrifice to complete the ritual, and the scarifies is absolutely necessary to attain a rebirth through death. Either of them have to die for the purpose. “

The man is prepared to be killed. He has been towing the fish, there would be no difference if he were towed by the fish in the skiff. Santiago’s mission is a spiritual quest, ‘a quest for union with the transcendental that he, nor anyone else has ever seen or ever been able to see.

Now it makes no difference in which one dies as long as he succeeds in the quest. He does succeed. The pursuer and the pursued have become one. Temporality is united with eternity.

Other symbolic interpretations in The Old Man and the Sea

There are several other symbolic interpretations in the novel. For example. Santiago’s search for the unknown has a deeper meaning.

The old man Santiago stands for the temporal, the earthly order and he has encountered difficulties and suffered in his quest, but his labor is rewarded with success.

The region where the old man catches the fish is beyond’ human access. It is the fish that has drawn the old man to that region.

He is not to be blamed, but he has to pay the penalty. The sharks are the Nemesis. Harada probes the deep symbolic meaning of Santiago

: “After he has achieved the act of greatness, the union with the eternal and the transcendental, he turns hi- boat toward the land, the home of temporality, futility, and fixedness.

It is then that the old marinas to face a great enemy, the sharks. Just like the Furies haunting the doomed Orestes, the sharks seem to be determined to prevent the old man from taking the prize of his fighting out of the sacred region.

It is as if these sharks were the mortuary divinities who are angered by the sacrilegious attempt of the old man to expose the unknowable fact to those in temporary and finite order.”

Thus, the old man is a symbol of the temporal and an order which is never immune from death. The sharks, the Furies, and Nemesis symbolize time. The old man has been troubled and his marlin attacked by the sharks.

He has been exhausted and fatigued in his fight, but he is undaunted and has gained a spiritual victory. His failure is not a failure.

. The novel is pregnant with deep meaning. Santiago, the ocean, and the marlin, the sharks, the lions, and the voyage into the far-out Fulf Stream all are symbolic. It has Christian, literary, and religious symbols. The work is the fruit and bloom of a mature mind.

Discuss Symbolism In The Old Man And The Sea 


Symbolism In The Old Man And The Sea
Symbolism In The Old Man And The Sea

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