The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

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Describe the relationship between the man and the boy in The Old Man and the Sea.

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The relationship between Manolin and Santiago is one of apprentice and teacher that grows into a deeper, meaningful friendship. Manolin looks up to Santiago and respects him as a once successful fisherman despite his parents' feelings towards the old man. He also views the old man as his spiritual father and inspiration. In turn, Santiago selflessly teaches Manolin his craft and is sympathetic to his needs. Unlike Manolin's father, Santiago shows concern and genuine interest in Manolin. There is also a mutual respect between Santiago and Manolin. Santiago respects the fact that Manolin is...

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paynelover42 | Student

They both trust eachother. For Manolin, Santiago is like his friend, family, and his role model. Nothing can change their relationship. 

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surajverma8 | Student

The Old Man and the Sea is a heroic tale of man's strength pitted against forces he cannot control. It is a story about an old Cuban fisherman and his three-day battle with a giant Marlin.  The relationship between Santiago and the boy is introduced early in the story. They are unlikely companions; one is old and the other young, yet they share an insuperable amount of respect and loyalty for each other. Santiago does not treat Manolin as a young boy but rather as an equal. Age is not a factor in their relationship. Manolin does not even act as a young boy; he is mature and sensitive to Santiago's feelings. He even offers to disobey his parents and accompany Nonetheless Manolin is loyal to Santiago and even when his parents forbid him he wants to help his friend. Their conversations are comfortable, like that of two friends who have known each other for a long time. When they speak it is usually about baseball or fishing, the two things they have most in common.  In this way Santiago not only teaches Manolin about fishing but also about important characteristics such as faith. In the story Santiago's bravery is unsurpassed but it is not until he hooks the great fish that we truly see his valor and perseverance.   Although Santiago has had many troubles he perseveres. He has faith in Manolin, in the Yankees, in Joe DiMaggio, and most importantly in himself.  After he hooks the Marlin he frequently recalls his battle with a native in what he calls the hand game. It is not just an arm wrestling victory for him it is a reminder of his youthful days. 

 AlthoughSantiago's perseverance and bravery are further illustrated when he tries to fight off the sharks. He was a fisherman all his life and therefore he knows that the fate of his catch is inevitable yet he persists to fight the sharks. The battle between him and the sharks is about principles not a mere fish. Santiago is still a great warrior at heart and warriors fight until the end. One of the greatest and most obvious pieces of symbolism in the story is Christianity. From the beginning of the story the reader is shown a unique relationship between Santiago and Manolin. Their relationship parallels that of Christ and his disciples. Manolin is Santiago's disciple and Santiago teaches Manolin about fishing and life. One of the greatest lessons that Santiago gives is that of a simple faith. Have faith in the Yankees my son. This type of faith reflects the basic principles of Christianity. Hemingway's description of Santiago further illustrates Christian symbolism.  Hemingway also parallels Santiago's suffering to that of Christ by stating that he settled …against the wood and took his suffering as it came. Even more profound is the description of Santiago's response when he saw the sharks, just a noise such a man might make, involuntarily feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood. (Page 107) . He does not smother the relationship between the old man and the young boy but instead separates them for a large part of the story.

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