Autobiographical Self-representation in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea
Twentieth Century American Fiction
Art and Literature has its origin in man’s desire for immortality. This desire for eternal remembrance prompted primitive men to carve figures of himself and his surroundings in his dwelling places. As art developed and languages formed, the same desire enflamed and that became an impetus for literature. Early literature must have been a recording of real life events with strong and highly fictional additions. Thus, every literature is a product of this human desire to make oneself immortal through the recording of one’s own philosophy, imaginations ...view middle of the document...
Most importantly he encounters a giant marlin and hooks it. Both the fish and the old man are perseverant and the fight goes on for a few days, till the death of marlin. On his victorious return to shore, the marlin is attacked and eaten by sharks.
By the time Santiago reaches the shore, only the skeleton of the Marlin remains. Yet, everyone is marvelled by the size of the fish and some even mistake it for a shark. Manolin, sees to it that he is in comfort by bringing him newspapers and coffee. When the old man wakes, they promise to fish together once again. He goes to sleep once again, and dreams of the lions in Africa.
Gregory Hemingway, the son of Ernest Hemingway says, “Papa almost always changed the situation a little and usually improved on it slightly but mainly he used material that had actually happened”. Even this work is based on an actual happening in which an old fisherman went through a similar experience similar to that of Santiago. He also made use of his life in the Caribbean in the 1930’s, when he fished for Marlins and other such giant fish in his famed boat, Pilar.
The author surely must have been fascinated by the old fisherman who struggled against all the odds and finally emerged victoriously. The real life fisherman is so much like a Hemingway hero, who will always show some great “grace under pressure”. Hemingway’s heroes are so much like Hemingway in the sense that they are always under the pressure to perform. Hemingway is a person who believed that he must perform well in life in order to survive and must show no fear or indecisiveness amidst troubles.
According to Harold Bloom, Hemingway considers himself to be a Christ like figure who is blamed and crucified by the society for no Sin that he committed. Bloom says, “..the The Old Man and the Sea a period piece, an involuntary self-parody, and an unfortunate allegory in which Santiago is Christ is Hemingway.”
Santiago, the great old man in The Old Man and the Sea is greatly based on the author himself, Ernest Hemingway and his philosophy and the author wanted to create a suffering hero whom he can always relate himself to.
The novel’s inaugural sentence itself makes it evident that the protagonist of the novel is none other than the author himself. "He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish". Like Santiago, the grand old protagonist, the author ‘papa’ Hemingway, was an old man waiting for another classic, with critics having almost ruled him out.
Prior to the publication of The Old Man and the Sea, he had been having difficulty with his writing. Between 1940 and 1950, he published no novels. When he finally published "Across the River and into the Trees" in 1950, Hemingway was criticized severely for falling below his usual standards. It was obvious he was in a "literary drought," much like Santiago’s own round of bad luck in fishing.
Hemingway was considered by many to be...