How are Santiago and the sea turtles symbolic of each other?The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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 On the sea in the second day as the sun comes up, Santiago has set his bait on his 300 fathoms of line.  As he follows the man-of-war bird out to sea, Santiago hopes his big fish is near the flying fish that jump.  When he looks down, he sees the Portugese men-of-war, then the turtles come and eat the poisonous jellyfish; Santiago loves the turtles for their bravery in attacking the jellyfish,

He was sorry for them all, even the great trunk backs that were as long as the skiff and weighed a ton.  Most people are heartless about turtles because a turtle's heart will beat for hours after he has been cut up and butchered. But the old man thought, I have such a heart too and my feet and hands are like theirs.

Santiago feels that he, too, is brave, not fearful to go out after eighty-four days with nothing.  He is determined to catch a big fish and bring it back; like the courageous and heroic turtles, he faces danger and  knows his trade.  And, although old like the turtles, he has a strong heart that will beat even after he is exhausted or defeated.


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