Old Man and the Sea Analysis

Subject: 📚 Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 854
Topics: Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway, 📗 Book
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Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is a celebrated novella that has resonated with generations of readers. Riveting in the narrative, it sees Santiago – an old Cuban fisherman – set out against titanic odds to reel in a giant marlin from the Gulf Stream with his limited equipment aboard a small skiff (Bloom, 2008). In his gruelling adventure, Santiago confronts physical and psychological exhaustion on top of profound spiritual conflicts as he ponders life’s greatest enigmas. This ageless tale, tinged with tragedy, highlights the strength of resilience, perseverance, and hope under insurmountable conditions, providing timeless insight into the human condition (Bloom, 2008). The paper will demonstrate the transformative potential of self-belief, showing how Santiago’s bravery, courage, confidence, optimism, empathy and determination enable him to triumph over even the most difficult challenges.

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Resilience & Perseverance

The main character in this story, Santiago, exemplifies tenacity and steadfastness to the fullest extent possible. Despite being elderly and suffering from physical disabilities, he confidently sets out each day to secure a good catch. Santiago’s ability to persevere in the face of adversity is demonstrated by the fact that he has not allowed himself to become disheartened by the failure of previous endeavours (Hemingway, 2020). It is further evidence of his unyielding optimism for achievement that, upon arriving at his destination, he does not hesitate for a moment before getting into his boat, even though it is typically a very long and tiring journey for him. This is the case even if similar endeavours in the past have not produced the desired results (Hemingway, 2020). Also, Santiago does not give up and keeps trying with the same optimism and determination until he finally succeeds due to his efforts.

The elderly Cuban fisherman, despite facing challenges such as starvation, exhaustion, and a lack of support from his contemporaries, never lost sight of his ultimate objective. He could get through seemingly insurmountable obstacles by relying on himself and the strength he possessed on the inside (Hemingway, 2020). This tenacity is displayed throughout the narrative and should serve as an example to today’s readers who strive to prevail despite their challenges (Hemingway, 2020).

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In “The Old Man and the Sea,” Santiago’s extraordinary fortitude is exemplified by the fact that he maintains an unwavering optimism despite his challenges. At a certain point, he cannot deny that he is experiencing difficulties owing to weariness and what seems to be endless bad luck with catching fish; yet, rather than dwell in his sorrow, he looks beyond his challenges to aid others (Hemingway, 2020). Santiago displays remarkable empathy by helping a fellow fisherman without expecting any reward or recognition. He also demonstrates noteworthy determination and a willingness to persevere, traits that ultimately see him become successful and accomplished despite success appearing impossible (Hemingway, 2020).

Courage & Confidence

Santiago’s bravery shines through throughout The Old Man and the Sea, but it is most apparent when facing up against the enormous marlin. Santiago never loses, even though he has been battling a fish far more significant than himself for days (Bryfonski, 2014). Even after suffering a series of defeats, such as when the harpooned marlin causes his boat to capsize when it leaps out of the sea, Santiago demonstrates a tremendous amount of bravery by not wavering in his goal to get the fish to the boat no matter what it takes (Bryfonski, 2014). This is demonstrated in a passage in which he says, “With the confidence that comes from knowing that “I am a crazy old guy who has pondered too long alone,” he is unconcerned about the future because he is confident in his ability to handle any situation on his own. This is exemplified by his saying, “I am a crazy old guy who has pondered too long alone” (Bryfonski, 2014).

Santiago demonstrates great courage throughout The Old Man and the Sea and an excess of confidence, which enables him to persist even when things appear to be without any chance of success. For instance, he does not entertain the slightest uncertainty regarding his capabilities. He moves on with faith in himself and his abilities (Rao, 2007). His self-confidence is further reinforced by paragraphs such as “It was just as I described it to you the day before… It’s either him killing me or me dying at his hands… It is too late to change anything.” In this passage, Santiago demonstrates that regardless of the outcome of his endeavors, whether successful or not, he will maintain his self-assurance until the very end since it can never be taken away from him (Rao, 2007).


Everyone can embody characteristics such as Santiago’s bravery, tenacity, and faith in The Old Man and the Sea. Santiago’s example of perseverance in the face of tremendous odds and brutal circumstances inspires readers everywhere who must contend with hardship. His life is a powerful example of the transformative potential of self-belief and a timely reminder that despite how challenging things may appear, challenges can always be surmounted if one has sufficient confidence in their abilities. The voyage of the elderly Cuban fisherman is a timeless example of the value of perseverance. It will continue to do so for many years, inspiring new generations of Cubans.

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  1. Bloom, H. (2008). Ernest Hemingway’s the old man and the sea (1st ed.). Infobase Publishing. https://www.infobasepublishing.com/Bookdetail.aspx?ISBN=1604131470&eBooks=0
  2. Bryfonski, D. (2014). Death in Ernest Hemingway’s the old man and the sea. Greenhaven Publishing LLC. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17471896-death-in-ernest-hemingway-s-the-old-man-and-the-sea
  3. Hemingway, E. (2020). The old man and the sea: The Hemingway library edition. Scribner. https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/the-old-man-and-the-sea/publisher/scribner/pics/
  4. Rao, P. R. (2007). Ernest Hemingway’s the old man and the sea. Scribner. https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/the-old-man-and-the-sea/publisher/scribner/first-edition/
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