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Themes in The Old Man and the Sea

Themes in The Old Man and the Sea research paper due and don’t know how to start it? How about like this?

In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway refines some of the themes he has explored throughout his work. The primary theme is that of man’s relationship with Nature. Although Nature provides a testing ground for man’s character, Nature is not an enemy. For example:

  • Santiago speaks of Nature lovingly
  • Santiago describing the sea like a woman
  • Santiago feels sympathy for the animals he kills Themes in The Old Man and the Sea
  • Even the sharks who destroy the marlin for which Santiago has worked so hard are not portrayed as evil; they are merely another of Nature’s challenges to man’s strength and perseverance

Santiago relies primarily on Nature for his living, but more than that he is defined by his ability to co-exist with Nature, to endure its hardships, and to take his losses without giving up hope.

Another theme in the novella is that of man’s relationships with his fellow man—women remain outside the equation. Hemingway presents here the importance of relationships between men. Manolin, although young, is Santiago’s primary connection. He provides companionship, food, and a way for Santiago to pass his knowledge to the next generation.

Another theme is skill. Some villagers scorn Santiago’s bad luck, but he knows that skill is more important because without it, even when luck arrives, one will not be able to make use of it. All these themes recur in Hemingway’s work, but are distilled in this novel to great purity.

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