How does William Faulkner's Nobel Prize Acceptance speech share certain aspects with Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea"? 

1 Answer | Add Yours

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Both the message of William Faulkner's Nobel Prize speech and the theme of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea emphasize the necessity and importance of man's endurance that will allow him to prevail against all adversity and maintain his honor.

In his speech Faulkner exhorts the writer not to simply record the end of man, but to remind men of the value and importance of the virtues of courage and honor,

...and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.

So, too, does Hemingway's code hero Santiago demonstrate the importance of these virtues which are what make a man authentic. Despite his failure to catch a fish for eighty-four days, Santiago ventures forth with the hope of finding fish and catching them. When he finally catches the marlin, a fish that is more than one man can handle, Santiago bravely--for as Faulkner says, "the basest of all things is to be afraid"--exerts himself to the fullest in order to pull in this massive creature of the sea: 

He took all his pain and what was left of his strength and his long gone pride and he put it against the fish's agony....

Certainly, just as Faulkner exhorts his audience, Santiago believes in the virtue of endurance. William Faulkner explains that the writer's duty is to help man "endure and prevail"; so, too, does the old fisherman feel it his duty to endure the agonizing pain in his hands and legs, the days on the sea with little to eat, and the lack of sleep because he must refuse to let the fish defeat him:

He took all his pain and what was left of his strength and his long gone pride and he put it against the fish's agony....

Santiago returns with the marlin's carcass, and, although defeated by the sharks which have taken all the meat, the old fisherman has the proof of his great catch, proof of his endurance and courage and pride. Finally, when he lies on his cot to sleep, Santiago dreams no empty dreams; he dreams of the lions, the dreams of his youth and of hope and strength. He may be debilitated in body, but the old man is yet alive in spirit; he loves the boy Manolin, on the sea he has retained his honor and pride although he pities and demonstrates a sympathy for the fish. Truly, he knows that which Faulkner enumerates as the "old verities" and "the truths of the heart."

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,988 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question