Santiago: as Code Hero in The Old Man And The Sea

Also Read

      Ernest Hemingway focuses on Santiago's consciousness in this quest story like the other code heroes of Hemingway. Santiago has the courage and endurance of a matador and like them he reveals grace under pressure. Santiago is a code Hero also in the rain combines the matador figure with that of the crucified Hero. The wounds he receives during his epic battle first with the Marlin and then with the sharks not only equal in with Christ but also suggest that suffering is the inescapable lot of the Hemingway Hero.

The wounds Santiago receives during his epic battle first with the Marlin and then with the sharks not only equal in with Christ but also suggest that suffering is the inescapable lot of the Hemingway Hero.

     Many religious images contribute to this symbolic pattern while other patterns of symbolism centre on baseball and dreams of youth. In a society objective view the man Santiago is only a simple fisherman, "thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck". His hands have the deep erased and old scars from handling heavy fish on the cords. Everything about him is old except his eyes which have the same colour as the sea and were cheerful and unaffected.

      Santiago shows certain qualities of mind and heart which at once raise him alone the level of a simple fisherman and which are clearly associated with the character and personality of Jesus Christ. There is the staying power which help him in his determination to last to the end of whatever is to come there is the ability to ignore is it in pain while concentrating of on the larger object which is to be achievement. Moreover the very title of the novel indicator, the old man is an archetype whose struggle gains a timeless quality because it takes place against the vast elemental background of the sea.

      As Carlos Baker has commented the old man moves into the gallery of literary immortals. Like Wordsworth's Leech-Gatherer whose struggle for existence is also portrayed against a vast natural backdrop that of the British moorland. The old man has been out of the sea again and again and loves the creatures of the sea like the flying fish and many more. They all come to live in Santiago's mind. Santiago speaks to and loves the flying fish, the dolphins, and the noble marlin. Santiago also speaks to the sharks but he meets their malignancy with enmity.

      Santiago's fighting spirit is reverted on the other hand his struggle with the huge marlin. As Santiago braces himself against weight, the skiff moves slowly off toward the Northwest. Four hours later, the old man is still shoddy braced with the line across his back "not to think but only to endure". He will show the fish "what a man can do and what a man endures".

      On the morning of the third day comes the zenith of his struggle. Now the Marlin rises and slowly circles the boat while the old man sweats and strains to get the fish close enough for harpoon. His hands are lacerated and her is nearly blind with fatigue but he manages to drive home the harpoon. But after a brief leisure the sharks begin attack the fish and though Santiago fight them with his oar, they gradually take away the whole of the fish. There is the thing left of the great fish except the skeleton, the bony head and the vertical tail.

      Santiago has had to fight a lonely battle and looses the battle after winning it. There was no one to help him so he pulled the boat up as far as he could. Though he is physically exhausted he rests moral victory from his marathon battle and has never conceded the defeat. As he says "man is not made for the defect, a man can be destroyed but not defeated". This spirit of struggle defying all the odds stacked against him, makes Santiago a tragic hero like all tragic heroes. He refuses to allow any impairment of his belief in the work of what has been doing. He is not a rebel, like caption Ahab in Melville Moby Dick, against the ruling power of the universe.

      When he drives his harpoon into the Marlin's heart, it is not imagine to have destroyed anything except a price fish with which he has fought long and fairly. The arrival of the sharks is a father challenge which he takes in his stride. It is the relentless baffle to assert his native worth and dignity that the essential tragedy of Santiago's situation. From the battle itself gains nothing except the sense of having taught it to the limits of is strength of having shown what a man can do when it is necessary. Like most tragic heroes, Santiago remains undefeated only because he has gone on trying. Confronted with disaster and mercy broken physically, he remains spiritually undefeated and rises to the status of a Christ like figure. Age isolation, exhaustion and various other obstacles have been overcome by him and he has exemplified the nobility of the human spirit. Another tragic trait in Santiago's character lies in his love of excess. He sails beyond his limits and acknowledges this when he tells skeleton of the marlin "fish that you were. I went too far out. I ruined us both".

Previous Post Next Post

Search Your Questions