The Old Man and the Sea Questions and Answers
by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea book cover
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Think about the strength, determination, and courage that Santiago displays in The Old Man and the Sea. Discuss the ways he exhibits these characteristics.

Santiago displays strength, determination, and courage in The Old Man and the Sea through his continuing battles with his profession.

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Hemingway's story The Old Man and the Sea is a story of strength, determination, and courage. Hemingway could have written that story in a variety of ways with a variety of characters and a variety of conflicts. Hemingway chose to make Santiago a fisherman, and I think that is a great choice for a story about determination, courage, strength, and perseverance.

Fishing might not seem like a profession that requires a lot of courage, but that would be a mistake. Open ocean fishing is incredibly dangerous. Santiago isn't fishing for lake-stocked trout at the local reservoir. There is a lot that can go wrong with his equipment, his navigation, his health, and so on. The dangers are compounded by the fact that Santiago goes out alone on his boat with no other boats that go with him. If he gets injured, he is on his own. Santiago is courageous for pursuing fishing as a career for his entire life.

As for perseverance, I would again lean in to Santiago's chosen profession as a fisherman. Personally, I can't stand fishing. I don't like it because I can spend hours or days without catching anything. My friends joke and say things like "that's why it's called fishing and not catching." A true fisherman is someone that perseveres day after day regardless of the catch (or absence of catch). Santiago has been without a catch for 84 days. Despite that massive dry spell, he still remains hopeful and continues to fish.

Another strong example of Santiago's perseverance is seen once he hooks the marlin. The fish fights for days against Santiago, yet he remains committed to seeing the fight through. He knows that the fish is income, but a three day battle definitely shows that Santiago is committed to seeing it through. He absolutely could have cut the line and hoped for easier prey. His three day battle also shows Santiago's deep reserves of strength. Muscles fatigue. They start to hurt and ache and output less power after time. It's inevitable, yet Santiago is able to pull against an incredibly strong opponent hour after hour and day after day. He may be old, but he's strong.

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