What is the relationship between themes and setting in The Old Man and the Sea?
In order to make a comment on the human condition, Hemmingway picked his backgrounds very carefully. In this case, so much about the setting made it clear the desperate condition the old man is in. His lack of good food, his incredibly empty hovel, the threadbare quality of everything help to create a stronger statement about his dignity, his willingness and desire to continue to work and strive despite what appear to be impossible odds. Without the setting, the statement would not be nearly as powerful.
Add to that the importance of the other characters who mock him, the backdrop of the easy living of those with means in this place where he has to toil to such an extreme to eke out a meagre existence, and the setting plays a very important role in how these statements are made.
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