What is Hemingway's philosophy in this book? thank you!

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Old Man and The Sea" Santiago is the protagonist.  Santiago is an old man who is struggling to reach his dream.  Hemingway's philosophy toward life in this novella is that man should continue to always strive for his goals.  The basic idea of never giving up on his dream was Santiago's drive toward trying to bring in the Marlin.  He went out and hooked a Marlin that was nearly bigger than his boat.  He fought with the fish to the point of exaustion.  He didn't get back to shore with the fish intack, but he never gave up the fight to acheive what he had set out to do.  No matter what the hardships, no matter how strong the challenge, Hemingway is trying to tell the reader to keep fighting.

"Santiago, is blessed with the intelligence to do big things and to dream of even grander things. Santiago shows great skill in devising ways to tire out the huge fish he has hooked and ways to conserve his strength in order to land it. Yet in the struggle to survive, this human must often suffer and even destroy the very thing he dreams of. Thus Santiago cuts his hands badly and loses the fish to sharks in the process of trying to get his catch back to shore. Yet the struggle to achieve one’s dreams is still worthwhile, for without dreams, a human remains a mere physical presence in the universe, with no creative or spiritual dimension."

timbrady eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hemingway believed that no matter what comes of our efforts, our nobility comes from the way we perform (with honor and dignity) rather than whether we win (achieve whatever it is we set out to do).  Both Santiage and the fish lose in this book; the fish is caught and loses its life only to be devoured by sharks before it is brought to land; Santiago lands the fish after exhausting efforts on his part, only to lose his catch before brining it to shore.  Were all their efforts wasted because of the "sharks" in this world?  No.  Since the results are always uncertain, the only thing that counts, in Heminway's philosophy, is that we struggle nobily, without complaining, that we follow the rules of the "fight."  Since we cannot control the outcome, we can only  be judged by the effort.

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The Old Man and the Sea

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