Symbolism of "The Old Man and the Sea".
Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" is a detailed story of an old Cuban fisherman, known as the old man or Santiago. In this short novel Hemingway illustrates the conflicts and tragedies that life presents, through Santiago's struggle at sea. While alone at sea, Santiago continuously strives to find optimism in several situations that seem hopeless. Despite his age and fatigue while at sea, the old man is willing to go beyond the limits of what is expected from him and put his physical and mental endurance to a test. The symbolism of loss, pride and achievement are all key aspects of Santiago's adventure with the marlin as well as an overall fight for life itself.
The symbolism of battles in life is seen when the old man reflects on Manolin while he is alone at sea. When Santiago is at sea and hooks the fish, he feels he needs the energy and strength of the young boy to catch the marlin. He reflects on this in the quote, "But you haven't got the boy he thought. You have only yourself, and you had better work back to the last line now, in the dark, and cut it and hook up the two reserve coils." This quote is symbolic of making do with what life presents to man. Many times in life help is not always available to relieve amounts of work or pain when striving for achievement. Santiago never allows his disadvantages to be a distraction to his determination to fullfill his goal. This represents the fact that in life one must learn to look beyond what problems face them and make a valiant effort to achieve what seems as the impossible. The awareness of his main weakness, the absence of Manolin, plays an essential factor of how Santiago confronts his problems. .
As Hemingway uses other figures to establish the element of struggle, he also represents Santiago's inner thoughts as symbolism. During the battle at sea between Santiago and the marlin, it occurred to Santiago how unpredictable the marlin was.