How is the setting important to the story line of The Old Man and the Sea? Please provide examples from the text. 

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a story about the perseverance over obstacles that seem to large to handle, just as the marlin is too large for Santiago to pull into the boat.  The setting is symbolic of this conflict because .. being set in nature.. it demonstrates the nature of man.  The turbulent sea is like the conflicts that people experience in growing up.  The marlin is the dream that men have, sometimes too large, but always there.  The sharks that eat the marlin are the things that get in the way of that dream.  The skeleton of that marlin shows that, even though the dream might remain unobtained, it is still there in some form for a man to turn to again.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two major conflicts here:  man vs. himself and man vs. nature.  The setting is paramount to this story since the Old Man can not overcome the sea from the comforts of his living room Lazy Boy recliner.  (Smile). 

He also gets to know who he is and what he is made of while out in the open water combating all the following: the elements (wind, cold, etc.), the fish, the fish who want his fish, and his own physical discomfort (aches, pains, cuts, hunger, thirst, etc).  His mental strength is tested, and he overcomes!

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The Old Man and the Sea

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