How does Santiago demonstrate heroism in The Old Man and the Sea?

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dashing-danny-dillinger | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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In Ernest Hemingway’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novella The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway presents the story of Santiago, an old fisherman who has a battle of wills with a giant marlin. Santiago has not caught a fish in over 84 days, so he takes his boat deep into the ocean to find better luck. While there, he catches a majestic fish, and the novella focuses on his struggles trying to pull in the catch of a lifetime. Santiago represents a typical Hemingway protagonist: a strong, hard-willed, masculine individual who can, when called upon, exhibit moments of heroism. Throughout the novella, Santiago displays heroic traits. One of the moments in which Santiago is at his most heroic is when he fends off attacks from hungry sharks that are picking at his catch:

“The shark’s head was out of water and his back was coming out and the old man could hear the noise of skin and flesh ripping on the big fish when he rammed the harpoon down onto the shark’s head at a spot where the line between his eyes intersected with the line hat ran straight back from his nose…. But that was the location of the brain and the old man hit it. He hit it with blood mushed hands driving a good harpoon with all his strength. He hit it without hope but with resolution and complete malignancy” (101-2).

Thus, Santiago demonstrates heroism throughout The Old Man and the Sea.

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