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The Old Man and the Sea – Tragedy

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Tragedy is defined as “a dramatic or heroic or literary work depicting a protagonist engaged in a orally significant struggle ending in ruin of profound disappointment.” Hemingway’s, the Old Man and the Sea is no doubt a very tragic novel. The story starts off with the narrator explaining how Santiago, the old man, had gone 84 days without catching a fish, making the reader feel sorry for Santiago right off the start. The boy is a companion of Santiago who’s been fishing with him, like an assistant, but still believes the old man is a great fisherman. The boy’s parents call the old man Salao, which is the worst form of unlucky, and the boy abiding by his parents went with another boat, which caught three fish in one week. It made the boy sad to see the old man with no fish, so the boy, Manolin, helped Santiago every time he went out to catch fish. So the reader gets a good view of the old man’s situation from almost the very beginning of the book.

Santiago has a strong will and will not give up no matter what. He promises to the boy, and himself that he will catch the biggest fish ever, on the 85th day since he last caught a fish. Santiago gets all prepared with reservoir, coils, a knife, and other gear to catch his fish. A quote from Clinton S. Burhans Jr. wrote in an essay that “Santiago represents a noble and tragic individualism revealing what man can do in an indifferent universe which defeats him, and the love he can feel for such a universe and his humanity before it”. (Baker, Ernest Hemingway) This quote is very true for Santiago, in showing that if he didn’t catch a fish, or something bad happened on the 85th day that Santiago would be ruined. When Santiago got his first bite he had no idea what he was in for.

The old man had three other lines out in the water at once, all at different depths to cover all aspects of the sea. On the line deepest in the sea a fish starts to bite and Santiago remains calm, waits for the fish to lunge for it. “Eat it a little more. Eat it so that the point of the hook goes into your heart and kills you.”(p44) This was a quote showing Santiago and the way he was talking to the fish, because there was no one else to talk to. When the fish finally eats the hook the old man struggles, he can tell it’s a very large fish when he realizes he isn’t gaining any line. In the end, after his huge struggle with the sharks they finally swallow the last bit of meat from his marlin. The Old Man and the Sea isn’t classified as a tragedy, but in some aspects can be. Where the protagonist, Santiago, goes on a quest that ends in great disappointment, where the sharks eat his marlin, which was his quest.

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