In The Old Man and the Sea, "The great fish came in September, not in May." Is "September" only literal?

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The May/September reference does suggest more than literal interpretation. It definitely has connotative meaning in terms of Santiago's life. Santiago's youth was behind him. He was an old man, although his strength and vigor--as well as his attitude--show that he is not nearing his death. (Even after losing his "great fish," he plans to fish again.) Therefore, the marlin comes to Santiago in the autumn of his life (September) when he has aged, not in the springtime of his life (May) when he was a young man. The fact that Santiago is not a young man when he meets his greatest challenge at sea, and endures, emphasizes his courage and integrity.

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