Monday, March 15, 2010

Obstacles of the Ocean

In our lives we experience many things that make an impact on us. We face obstacles that stand in our way. We want to overcome these things to be able to live with it, but sometimes we have to work to do this. Everyone, whether you are five or ninety-five, deals with things we’d rather not. Perhaps a student is facing a test they are not prepared for. Or you just got the test results back and the doctors don’t know what to do. In both cases the outcome is bleak. Either way there is something in your way. Life is like a mountain, it takes a lot of climbing, but eventually you make it to the top. Santiago obviously had huge obstacles to overcome, but he did even if the outcome wasn’t great. Sometimes that’s the risk but it’s worth it. He did catch that fish and should be proud of it. In Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, the main character faces many frustrating situations. He has to deal with loneliness, pain, and despair. All three of these things made his journey unforgettable.

In the book, Santiago has no family. He lives on his own and fishes for a living. However he is not often alone. Manolin, a young boy who lives in the village, helps the old man almost every day to fish and keep company. Manolin offered to go with the man on his fishing journey, but Santiago refused. He feared for the child because he cared for him. He was trying to be cautious. He most likely knew that the trip would be dangerous and suspenseful, so told him no. But Santiago was regretful of this decision later in the book. The boy was talkative and carefree which he missed. The old man ended up talking to himself to fill the silence. He often said in the book how he missed the boy, “I wish the boy was here.” (50) Also, there were many instances where the boy’s assistance would have been helpful for him. The boy, being young and strong, would have especially been able to help with the capturing of the fish. The old man found himself lonely and upset being alone. He wished for company and even talked to a bird for a short time. He needed a friend, but all he had was the monster pulling him along.

A second struggle Santiago faced was pain that he felt through this experience, both physical and emotional. The main physical pain he felt was his cramping hand. While he was trying to get the fish to take the line, his hand cramped up. He was an old man who had been through a lot in his life, but he was disgusted none the less. “’What kind of a hand is that,’ he said. ‘Cramp then if you want. Make yourself into a claw. It will do you no good.’” (58) His hand affected the rest of the trip. He was tolerant of it but it made him unhappy. Santiago also got many cuts and bruises along the way. He was emotionally hurt when the sharks ate his fish. He had really come close to it and felt like it was much more than just a fish. He thought of it as a brother and was sympathetic to it. Santiago was mournful when the marlin died. He felt he lost a part of him, along with his pride. He dealt with discouraging pain, but continued anyway.

The final obstacle Santiago had to overcome was despair. Santiago was already discouraged at the beginning of the story because he hadn’t caught a fish in eighty-four days, which is an extremely long time for a fisherman who devotes his whole life to fishing. Also, he was not at all prepared for such a large journey. He didn’t have enough food or water. He ended up eating raw tuna. “Chew it well, he thought, and get all the juices.” (58) Santiago didn’t have the tools he needed to catch such a fish. He only had his fishing pole and harpoon. He was deprived of the things he needed and yet he still persevered to get by.

Santiago faced many, many hardships. He dealt with things people don’t have to see every day and he did so all by himself. Although he was lonely out on the skiff, he had Manolin to welcome him home when no one else did. The pain he felt helped make him a stronger person. And in the end he conquered despair. Santiago showed us that no matter what we go through in life, anything can be overcome.

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