Illustration of a marlin in the water

The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway
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Identify one language technique Hemingway uses and its effect in the following passage from The Old Man and the Sea: "He knew he was beaten now finally and without remedy and he went back to the stern and found the jagged end of the tiller would fit. ... I never knew how easy it was. And what beat you, he thought. 'Nothing,' he said aloud. 'I went out too far.'"

In this passage from The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway uses personification when describing Santiago's thoughts about the wind and his bed. This shows the resilient, optimistic, grateful nature of Santiago's character.

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In this passage from The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago reflects to himself:

The wind is our friend, anyway, he thought. Then he added, sometimes. And the great sea with our friends and our enemies. And bed, he thought. Bed is my friend.

Here, Hemingway uses personification in describing Santiago's thoughts about the wind and his bed, describing them as friends, as if they were capable of intention and wanted to help him. This device shows the old man comforting himself, as he has just experienced the hostility and cruelty of the sea and, in particular, of the sharks, several of which he has killed. The sharks were his enemies and got the better of him, destroying the great marlin he caught. It is only natural that, as he seeks to console himself for this loss, Santiago should think of his friends.

This characterization of the wind and his bed as friends and helpers shows that the old man is optimistic, grateful, and resilient by nature. His has been a hard life, particularly difficult and disappointing in recent days, when he has caught no fish, then had his one truly great catch completely destroyed. Instead of being overwhelmed by this hardship and his run of bad luck, Santiago counts his blessings, a reaction which has evidently become a habit and a powerful way of keeping despair at bay.

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