The Old Man And The Sea By Ernest Hemingway: a Man Can Be Destroyed But Not Defeated

The movie Little Boy directed by Alejandro Monteverde in 2015 is about a small child whose father leaves to war, which leaves the little boy to fend for himself. When his father is gone he gets bullied and continues to worry about his father and wanting him to come back. However, the boy does not let what anybody, including his own brother, says get to him. He continues to have faith and hope which keeps him strong until finally, the good news arrives.

In Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, published in 1952 is a story about an old man named Santiago who continues to get destroyed but never defeated. With his salao, spending time with the Marlin, and facing hardships Santiago is able to build himself up.

Firstly, when Santiago states that “a man can be destroyed but not defeated” he refers to his salao. Throughout the novella Santiago experiences major amounts of this, especially before his fishing trip.

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For instance, when Santiago and Manolin sat on the Terrace many of the fishermen “made fun of the old man” however, he “was not angry”. The old man does not let anybody get to him no matter what they have to say. In addition to his salao, Santiago is also very poor. While the boy and the old man walked “to the old man's shack” it was evident that his income was not good. When they walked in Santiago had a mast wrapped up against the wall and it was “nearly as long as the one room of the shack” which shows how small his space was.

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However, this is mainly due to not catching a fish in the past eighty-four days, and fishing is his only income. Santiago does not let his poverty get the worst of him. Despite all his “salao” Santiago does not give up on fishing which is his life. He is a determined and avid fisherman and he refuses to give up. In order to not be defeated, Santiago ignores the truth to keep himself strong. He caught a massive Marlin who was nearly an equal match for Santiago. But Santiago was bound to never give up. Santiago refuses to lose hope. He is just out at sea only focusing on this big fish he’s been waiting to catch. He feels a connection to this fish. This connection is the feeling of being brothers because of their strength, inner power, and loneliness. Even when he was tired while fighting the sharks he felt very weak and tired. In his fight, he killed 3 sharks. Even though the fight was unfair because he could not see he decided to remain mentally strong. In the end, he won the fight because his mental strength overcame his physical weakness.

In addition to when Santiago states that “a man can be destroyed but not defeated” he refers to his hardships. Santiago has faith, but despite all the hardships he goes through he does not lose hope. Even though the other fisherman do not believe in him, and the boy does not go with him he still goes fishing by himself. Santiago has a significant amount of inner strength and confidence. He decides to go fishing again, even though he is physically challenged, and his inner strength is as strong as ever. By paying attention to the birds he was able to follow them which lead him to find this great fish. He quickly made sure that his line was set and really hoped that this fish would take a bite. The moment he knew he had this great fish hooked he attempted to bring it in, but the fish did not budge. Instead, the fish just went on its course which left Santiago sitting there calmly. One of the biggest forms of saloa that Santiago experiences is his loneliness. Throughout the novella, Santiago remains lonely. However, in the beginning, is the most important part. Santiago even has a picture of his wife to make him feel that he even has the slightest amount of company. The entire town thought he was dead, and even if he was alive he would have come back with nothing. Everybody failed to see his inside instead of his outside. Manolin, who was the only person who believed in him, was the first to rush to him and see if he was ok.

From the very first pages of the story Santiago is a humble man with little worldly success to show for his many years. “Everything about him was old except his eyes, ” says the narrator. As blue as the sea, they were “cheerful and undefeated”. His humility is not a sign of resignation; not “disgraceful, ”

Works cited

  1. Monteverde, A. (Director). (2015). Little Boy [Motion picture]. Open Road Films.
  2. Hemingway, E. (1952). The Old Man and the Sea. Scribner.
  3. Kilcup, K. (1989). Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea: Christian symbolism revisited. The Hemingway Review, 9(2), 1-14.
  4. Lynch, R. E. (2004). Understanding Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea: A student casebook to issues, sources, and historical documents. Greenwood Press.
  5. Merriman, C. D. (1991). Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. Research & Education Assoc.
  6. Spilka, M. (1976). Hemingway's tragic vision in The Old Man and the Sea. Studies in American Fiction, 4(2), 127-142.
  7. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2021). Ernest Hemingway. In Encyclopædia Britannica.
  8. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2021). The Old Man and the Sea. In Encyclopædia Britannica.
  9. Trimmer, J. F. (1995). Understanding The Old Man and the Sea: A student casebook to issues, sources, and historical documents. Greenwood Press.
Updated: Feb 24, 2024
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The Old Man And The Sea By Ernest Hemingway: a Man Can Be Destroyed But Not Defeated. (2024, Feb 24). Retrieved from

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