The Old Man and the Sea, praised by a famous writer as “the most excellent simple article in this generation”, is a masterpiece of the unyielding man—Hemingway. But with regard to the symbolism, it has been talked differently, and was equivocal in the explanation by Hemingway himself. The Protagonist, the living environment, the sea, the Shark, the Marlin are not themselves but have significant symbolical meaning. Here the author will analyze its symbolism thoroughly through some aspects such as the leading character，the living environment and Hemingway”s philosophy of life reflected by the symbols, with a view to help the reader get a better understanding of Ernest Hemingway's masterpiece．
Ernest Hemingway; the symbolic factors; iceberg theory; the living environment； philosophy of life
海明威；象征因素；冰山原理; 生存环境; 人生观
Regarded as a giant both in American literature and the world literature, Ernest Hemingway was born on July21, 1898, at Oak Park, Illinois. In the childhood, influenced by his father, Hemingway was interested in music, pictures, hunting, fishing and the like.
His variety of interest, especially the love of fishing extremely affected all his life and he drew much writing inspiration from his fishing experience. Taking adventures also plays a vital role in his life and for the reason that he experienced the two world wars. As a noticeable representative of the “Lost Generation”, Hemingway published the books of this sort, The Sun Also Rises at the age of 26. Because the book chiefly deals with the living attitude of the post-war generation, especially the lives of those wounded soldiers and the loneliness and disillusionment of the modern people whose ideal was shattered at the time when “God is dead”, they thought life was nothing and meaningless. In this case, Hemingway became the spokesperson for the The Lost Generation.
I. Introduction to the Background
The old Man and the Sea is a fable of an old man”s life which was told by Hemingway.
Hemingway is a famous American writer of modern times. He is also an international literary celebrity in the world. His father is a prominent doctor, and also a dab at fishing and hunting. The influence of his father made him full of love with fishing and hunting. His life was active and adventurous, but it was full of pains. The First and the Second World Wars had affected Hemingway a lot, he had once joined the army and had injured in Italy, and he suffered much that was brought about by the war deeply. He was disappointed with the world and pessimistic about the fate of the man. In his early days” novel, The Sun also rises depicts the war, describing the bewilderment of the European and American young people, then he was look down upon by someone around him and some writers. “You are all the generation that has been at a loss.” So, seeking way out and seeking the understanding of life is the theme that Hemingway wanted to explore. He was an unyielding man, so he portrayed the distinctive individual character of “the character of unyielding man”. From all the works of Hemingway”s, we can find that when Hemingway chose personage, he especially liked to choose beggar, hunter, solider and so on, they could protect their dignity by resisting with the world which is full of hostility, they maintain a graceful demeanour under great force, but on target. The characters of the protagonist are different from that of the early days” novel. For example, the leading character Jordan in For whom the Bell Tolls is a hero who devotes himself to the career he incites the evil force, which reflects the cherished desire for opposing the fascism war of the people, which is full of wide social meaning and the time”s breathe. All the characters of the protagonists in his novel show his inward world---he was an unyielding man, and has the desire to be the best one in the world, all these can be improved by the protagonists that are suffering but strong-minded
As a mouthpiece of “the lost generation”, Hemingway suffered cold shoulder and attack almost ten years in the commentary field. In order to save the desperate situation, Hemingway wrote a work that he firmly believes to be the best works in his life, which was called The Old Man and the Sea, which is the inheritance and development of Hemingway”s unyielding character.
Hemingway grew in the time that symbolism was embodied and expanded from circle of poet into the field of literature. Hemingway himself also thought that the novel should be like an iceberg, the one-eighth reveals above the water, the other seven-eighths hide deeply in the water, which needs the reader himself to understand. In other words, one has to keep a close eye on Hemingway”s words and reading between the lines because of his highly symbolic language. The theme and the description of The Old Man and the Sea is very simple, because it reveals only one -eighth on the face, the rest seven-eighths are hidden, when reading carefully and learning about the culture and situation at that time, you can understand the real hidden part by the writer. So, the distinctive writing style of Hemingway is his iceberg theory and symbolism.
Ⅱ.The Symbolism in the Works
A. The Definition of Symbolism
Symbolism is an artistic movement in the late 19th century that tried to express abstract or mystical ideas through the symbolic use of images. In literature, it is a writing style of using something to stand for something else by reasoning of relationship, association, accident resemblance, or a visible sign of something invisible.
As a master in literature, Hemingway uses very simple words and sentences to write some magnum opus, which is his iceberg technique that he uses in his work. He believed as a good writer, he didn”t need to reveal the action or characters clearly, obscurity can give us the aesthetic sense. So the words and sentences in his work are symbolic and suggestive. That is to say, one needs keep a close eye to read his works and read between the lines deliberately.
In my opinion, the arbitrariness of Hemingway about the symbolical factors fully manifest that he is unwilling to accept the laurel of “symbolist”. When we study Hemingway, we must start it from The Old Man and the Sea, which promotes his creative writing to the summit of honor. When we study The Old Man and the Sea, we have to research its symbolical factors.
B. Major Symbols in The Old Man and the Sea
There are many symbols in this story, such as the old man, the boy, the sea, the shark, the marlin and etc. This paper only focuses on the important symbols and analyzes the deep meanings of them.
1. The Old Man— the Best Expression to “the unyielding character”
The Old Man and the Sea is a short simple novel that has been hailed as a classic. The story The Old Man and the Sea is about an old fisherman named Santiago who overcomes the great forces of nature. Not catching a single fish for eighty-four days, the old fisherman still keeps on trying without being despaired. He goes far out into the sea and catches a huge marlin after three day”s patient struggle. On his way home sharks come and attack, Santiago tries his best to fight but fails to prevent the marlin from being eaten. In the end he returns with nothing but the skeleton of the marlin.
Many people believe that the novel is about the life of Hemingway himself. Because some parts of the story do relate to what Hemingway has experienced in his life.
The old man--- Santiago is the last tragic hero that Hemingway portrays. Being poor and unlucky, his fate is sad, but he is not a man being easily defeated. Hemingway”s unyielding character is attached to the old man like a demon, which is the symbol of Hemingway”s unyielding character, which is regarded as an embodiment of Hemingway”s iceberg principle. The old man is a geezer who goes fishing lonely. The torment that the life gives makes his neck condensed with deep wrinkles, which make him look thin and haggard, every part of his body looks old, but his eyes are blue like the sea, never depressed. At the beginning of the article, the old man just catches up “misfortune”. In integral eighty- four days, he has not caught a fish. As a fishing man, that is the most unlucky. Even a boy who spends a long time with him also has to leave him on the fortieth day.
The old man”s tragic fate is an x light in art of Hemingway misfortune. Hemingway had once joined in the Second World War and the Spanish War. The society after war is disarrayed and destitute. The fantastic phenomenon of the war and the society brought deep spiritual injury to Hemingway, which can be said that he survived the war after many perils. This is just one of the old man”s aspects of being old. We find that, after For whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway did not publish any important article, Across the River and Into the Trees suffered criticism again. Numerous critics even affirmed Hemingway”s intelligence had already exhausted, he had nothing fresh, and such situation is so alike the circumstance of the old man at the beginning.
In order to prove he is a “geezer”, or in order to prove that he is strong-minded, and can finish the task that no one can replace, the old man must catch a big fish, concerning dignity and honor. Hemingway stressed that he had once planned to name the article Man”s Dignity. To Hemingway, he must write works that is the best in all his life. Hemingway realizes that he can gain a good fame by the fulfilling of The Old Man and the sea. “I will do my best to write better later on, but it will be very difficult …I am special writer, I know how things stand.” ①The old man also realizes that “eighty-fifth” is a lucky day, “I can seize a big fish of one thousand pounds”②. After the old man catches the biggest fish that he has never seen, he has already exhausted, his hands are not only deserted, but also full of scars.
In my opinion, the portraying of the old man who is “a loser who can not be defeated” can”t be departed from enquiring into the dual personality of Hemingway. The words and actions reflect Hemingway”s outlook on life and his behavior standard. The victory of spirit gives dignity and courage to these losers and their creators. At the same time, he uses a mask to conceal the weakness and fatalism.
The aggravation of the old man”s circumstances is to reveal the “graceful demeanor” when Hemingway is under “pressure”. Under this pressure, the old man”s failure appears to be moving and tragic. At the beginning, the old man puts to sea every day, but he has not caught a fish in succession in eighty-four days, this kind of failure is out of luck enough, and the little boy”s departure makes the old man”s circumstances more miserable. But in such situation, the old man reveals the unyielding character perfectly: When his big fish has been eaten by the shark with skeleton surplus rested, he asks himself: “ What defeated you?”③ “Nothing…it is me who goes too far.” ④The old man admits his failure bravely, but he believes his own ability absolutely. He believes even though he fails, he is still brave incomparably, and has not been defeated by the shark in spirit, he does not lose heart, because he believes that “Once he has been defeated, the thing is easy.”
The First World War made Hemingway learns the society again, which affected the works of literature seriously. In Hemingway”s sight, the world is full of violence and hypocrite, the death is waiting for everybody. This is the symbol of the old man”s sad fate. If we want to live in this society, we must set up a living rule, that is: If we can not win, we can not admit defeat, we can do our best to live under toleration, giving up dispute of emotion, seeking happiness in the open air. This set of living rule made Hemingway portray this typical unyielding man”s unperturbed manner. After sixteen years, Hemingway realized the true essence of the story, he turned this true story into a parable that infiltrates philosophy. Hemingway does not tell the story simply, but reveal his living experience, emotion and thought symbolically.
We can see that the old man shows some traditional moral, we can”t deny that the old man is the best reflecting of the unyielding spirit of Hemingway”s.
2. The Boy— the Best Supplement for the Unyielding Man Character
“The God give me an good old man and a good boy, but nowadays the other writers has already forgotten these things”⑤, when Hemingway talked about the successful factors of this novel, he once quite satisfied to mention the boy and the old man in the same breath. From that we can see the little boy takes a very important part in The Old Man and the Sea
The boy learns fishing from the old man on the boat from five years old, the character features of the boy reveals the old man”s character from another side, though he was little, he is not childish. He not only learns the capability of fishing, but also the spirit of striving to become stronger and the responsibilities of a man. The young and tender shoulder has already been used to steel him, though “he felt drowsy when walking”, he still says “This is nothing, true man will do it.”⑥ Rhythmic words sufficiently reveal Hemingway”s unyielding character.
Under the subconsciousness of the old man, the boy is another stage of his life, one can”t dream two of his own, and so he “has not dreamed of the boy”. The boy”s leaving is the decision of his parents, the old man is unwilling to let the boy feel embarrassed, so he does not let the boy follow him, he does not let the boy infect with his bad luck, the boy insists coming back for several times, though the old man”s failure is put ahead, the reality confirmed the failure of the old man，the old man declined for many times, but which can not hold back the child. He is not afraid of failure, he scorns the failure, facing the failure bravely, because in the boy”s heart, the old man is a “wonderful fisher” and different from the others. The boy is helping the return of Hemingway”s “graceful demeanor”. The appearance of the little boy is not an accessory, which has meaning of symbol, he is the maintenance of the future life”s extension, and he is also the power source of the unyielding man who never bows to difficulties. The old man is just under the boy”s encouragement and struggle hard, he realizes that: “If the boy is not here, I have been died out already.”⑦So the child brings sorrow and happiness, he brings the hope, the society of the human can also extend uninterruptedly.
Taking the only boy whom he can depend on r for survival is Hemingway”s unique idea. Taking away is because the old man “has bad luck” and the boy”s parents force him to claim kinship with them. Also because of Hemingway living in a society that tends to be decadent and declined, to be a upright and dear-headed intellectual, at one side, he saw through the hypocritical and corrupt society, though he is brave, a long time”s struggle made him unable to do as much as he wishes to, and he can not change the backward reality anyhow. So he feels depressed and uncertain of the wishes and victory, he turns into a victor in spirit gradually, is eager to use the victory of spirit to make him gain comfort and freedom from sorrow. Under this mentality, Hemingway reveals sympathy to the weak man and scorn the rich, so the child makes decision to return to the side of the old man when the old man feels lonely and sad. The return of the boy reveals that he turns a blind eye to the authority of his father and the superstition to the fate. Before the child goes back, the struggle of the old man is isolate; the words of the child make clear that he becomes mature under the move and inspire, he faintly feels happy and the wish of brightness. So the image of the boy is the elaboration of the writer in making out the line of the story， and the information that the boy reflects is beyond the information that the writer hopes on the fish，the old man and sea. The boy helps him when the others deserts. “If the boy were here”. The story mentions it for nine times, which symbolizes that the child is the strength for the weak man when he fails and is disappointed.
3. The Sea — the Symbol of Hemingway”s Survival Environment.
The sea is the symbol that stands for the world and society where man must live. The sea is boundless, full of various marlins and sharks, full of raging waves and hidden reef. And the sea is cruel, savage and insidious, just like the real world where Hemingway lives.
In both the sea and the life, there are many possibilities that lie hidden from the common: some are gifts to be treasured and some are troubles to be defeated. Neither will be found unless man embarks on the journey.
The sea is holding the balance in the whole story, it is the substance world that the old man depends on, it is all content of his living, the sea prepares the mystical big fish, it supplies a place to reveal the old man”s courage and will-power, the sea is a picture that means a lot. The vast and mystical sea is like a mother-kind, beautiful, but cruel sometimes, and comes so abruptly.” And the old man always takes the sea as a woman, but it often swallows some strong birds. So in the old man”s opinion, the sea is cruel, and he reveals resentful manner to the cruel sea and sympathy with the weakbirds. Connecting the reality of American at that time, we can see the democratic power was suffered oppression cruelly, all the Americans were covered by the atmosphere of worrying and being nervous, but as sharp eyes, the writer wants to expose the recreancy of the people at that time.
However, Hemingway entrusted a woman”s body and soul to the sea that embraces a large quality of possibility and reproduction, so it can prepare a big fish, her extensiveness is broad enough for the old man to sail into the field of the known and unknown mystery, her vastitude is enough for the old man to live in the eternal world.
When living alone at the sea, the old man saw the sun arising and setting, being a couple with the fish and bird, talking with the wind and the sea, he becomes one part of the sea. “The sea is kind and very beautiful.” At last, it gives a big fish to the old man. But the sea is also cruel- the coming shark captures the big fish, breaks his “gloriousness” into pieces. The old man”s loneness and happiness, fight and failure are connected with the sea. The relationship between the old man and the sea is not only relying on the sea, but also fighting with the sea. He not only gains living conditions, living technique, but also gains friends and opponent. The sea is his living and battle field, it also will be his last destination, and it has a very important relation with Hemingway. Hemingway is a writer who only describes the man, and he has no works known as taking the woman as a leading role, as one comment has said: The woman he wrote was not real, because his mother”s chaste, arrogant and willful character affected Hemingway. This reality made Hemingway restless and suffered, and then the concentration of spirit became a good medicine that cures his inner heart. So the “kind and beautiful sea” became ideal portrait of his inner heart.
In the novel, Santiago embarks on a sea journey and encounters a giant marlin. He battles nobly to earn the treasure, and then fights against sharks to save the treasure. The struggle defines him as a real hero. Though he loses the marlin in the end, he has won the sea battle and honored himself.
The sea is just like the society. Only a man faces and fights on it with courage, can he defeat the unchangeable fate and become the strong one of the life. Like the sea too, the society contains many hidden treasures or good chances and predators. A true man must have sufficient will and courage to find the treasures and fight the predators. The heroic man will regard the struggle not as a burden, but as a challenge that prove his courage. And he should fight it on to the end even in the price of his life. I think the fight with the marlin is in fact the fight between the writer and the troubles in the society at that time.
4. The Shark —A Powerful Deputy of the Evil Force
The shark stands for the evil side of the natural world. It symbolizes the destructive force of the society and the world.
When Santiago is fighting with the marlin, the sea is calm, beautiful, which is harmonious with the nature. But the sharks smell the taste of blood, they come up one by one and destroy the harmony. Furthermore, they devour the old man”s trophy-great marlin, like the predators. Santiago hates them very much because they are sly thieves and the deadly creatures of the deep. What is more, they want to destroy his achievement—marline. In contrast to his regret over killing the giant marlin, the old man delights in stabbing or clubbing each shark. And the destructive force—the sharks also motivate the old man to struggle and transcend the destruction.
When the first shark arrives, Santiago”s resolution is mentioned twice in a paragraph. First we are told that the old man is full of resolution but he has little hope. Then later, the narrator says: He hits without hope but with resolution. From these, we can see Santiago”s change, he at first does not fight for he thinks the enemy is too strong and impossible to be defeated. But then he decides to fight for his treasure. He determines to struggle against it to the end and ignores the result. Although he returns to Havana without the trophy of his long battle, he has acquitted himself proudly and manfully. The old man undergoes a remarkable transformation and renews his life through his struggle.
It is easy to see that the destructive force can defeat the one who has been conquered by fate, but motivate a true man to struggle. In the dilemma to fight or leave, it is the shark, the dark force makes Santiago fight against his fate.
With regard to the symbolical meaning of the shark, there are many explanations, such as the time, the jaws of death, etc. However, Hemingway has once said clearly and definitely. “The obnoxious shark is just like income tax. I work hard, come across good luck. I obtain a considerable sum of cheque, and then the income tax comes along like a shark, using their sharp teeth to bite”. Obviously, the “shark” here is a powerful deputy of the evil force in his world.
The big fish that the old man has seen seems to be “nobler, more powerful”, we can also find the shark is “afraid of nothing”. In fact, writing the shark is to write the man. For the old man knows “What is a man can afford to do” “This one always wants to kill that one”, it is the symbol of “the weak being at the mercy of the strong” in the capitalism society.
When the old man wants to fish a big fish, he really catches a unprecedented big fish, his praise for the big fish, the big size of the body, the grace of the posture, the hugeness of the power, the beauty of the color can make us reminds of it. Those sharks can be seen as symbols of the evil force that obstruct people to achieve the perfect condition.
Why does the old man go to praise another shark which is called “Qingsha”? Because Hemingway wants to make use of the old man”s mouth to say the different attitude to several hostile powers. Hemingway has once said: “I would rather have an honest enemy than have lots of hypocritical friends.”⑧ The shark may be symbolizing that kind of “honest enemy” that Hemingway liked. Maybe everyone of us has the same opinion that he likes to deal with the honest enemy---the clear difficult or hostile powers, but dislike to meet the hypocritical friends---the submerged rocks, the unpredicted hostile powers. So in my opinion, the description of the shark is a kind of symbolism that reflects Hemingway”s iceberg technique.
5. The Marlin—the Symbol of Achievement
In contrast to the shark, which stands for a bad part of nature, the giant marlin also has its symbolic meaning in the novel. It becomes a symbol of the ideal in life that challenges those who is eager for it.
For a large part of the book, Santiago is fighting with this giant, mysterious creature. In the beginning, his skiff is pulled out to the sea by the fish, and he does not even know what it looks like. He can only imagine its strength, size and determination, yet he does not give up fighting. When the old man actually sees the fish, he is even more amazed at its grandeur and size.
“Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother, the old man thought He loves the fish as if it was his brother. But he still decides to kill it, because the marlin is his ideal in life. Only by killing the giant marlin, Santiago can show what a man can do and what a man endures and finish the task that he was born for.”⑨
The marlin symbolizes a man”s ideal in life. If one wants to prove himself, he must constantly struggle for his ideal in life. Only through actions conducted with dignity, he can prove his heroism and realize his life ideal. It is precisely through the effort to battle the huge marlin that Santiago proves his heroism and manliness. He finds the marlin worthy of a fight, and so he fights hardly. By realizing the life ideal, he proves himself a worthy fisherman. So a heroic and manly life is not self-sufficiency, it requires constant demonstration of one”s worthiness through noble action and struggle for the ideal in life.
6. Other Symbolical Factors
The main protagonists in the works that the great writer uses reflects the writing style, some minor characters can brighten the use of the symbolism. The first minor character mentioned is the lion. The lion appears repeatedly, the old man has even dreamed “the lion”. Obviously, as another name of power and courage, it appears constantly, constitutes a symbol that its moral is very clear and definite, it symbolizes the vigorous vitality and the youth, even the struggle and strong spirit that reflects the unyielding man”s character.
The eagle searching prey around the sea and the tuna which the old man eat all have certain moral, all of them have the special quality of the old man, they have relations with other personages and the environment. However, they are all symbols that Hemingway used to pass on “significance” to us. This is incompatible with the way of the symbolical writers who likes to pursue “subjective reality”. Maybe this is one of the reasons why Hemingway did not want to accept the symbolical laurels.
III. Hemingway”s Philosophy of Life Reflected by the symbols in The Old Man and the Sea
In this novel, Hemingway has used many symbols. All these symbols have very important and special meanings. By understanding them, we can better understand the writer's philosophy of life.
A. Hemingway”s Philosophy of Life in The Old Man and the Sea
The Old Man and the Sea is a song of praise about human spirit. Through the description of the sufferings Santiago endures and his courageous behavior in his fights with the marlin and the sharks, Hemingway intends to tell us his philosophy of life: although life is a lonely battle, it is a struggle that man should fight on with courage and endurance; and the “meaning” of life is not to be found in “success” or “failure”, but rather in the struggle itself.
To Hemingway, life is a struggle to be borne, not like a burden, but as a challenge. He thinks that man has the power to struggle for life, no matter what result may be. According to him, human beings are not totally hopeless in the world. Even though he knows that the human struggle is useless in face of the natural forces, he encourages people to strive. In this sense, Hemingway”s philosophy of life is the further and heroic development of the naturalists. In addition, Hemingway”s philosophy of life is also helpful to the people today. When faced with the difficulties and setbacks in life, many people complain about the fate and chance; they feel depressed, losing hope towards life. This is not the right attitude towards life. Hemingway tells us that a man should face and overcome the difficulties in life with decency, dignity, and heroism. To be a man is to behave with honor and dignity, not to succumb to suffering, to accept one”s duty without complaint, and most importantly, to display a maximum of self-control. This is Hemingway”s ideal of manhood, and Santiago is the perfect representative of Hemingway Code Hero. So we should learn from Santiago. When we suffer from the setbacks in life, we should fight against them to the end despite the pain, and display great grace and courage during the battle. This is just the right attitude we should have towards life.
B. Hemingway”s Attitude towards the Society Reflected through the Symbol of the Sea
Sea stands for the world all men live. In the sea there are many treasures and dangers for everyone. Men should fight for the treasures and against dangers Hemingway think.
Santiago gets nothing within 84 days, is laughed by all the people, considered as a loser, but he still insists to go fishing without complaining to the sea and reminds the old time when he attained a lot from the sea. The author explains to us that we should not hate the world we are in although it is cruel sometime. What is more, he does not agree with those people who give up or just wait for the miracles happen to improve their lives. Man must know what they want and try his best to fight and protect it as what the author did in his life. Hemingway is thought by society that he has run out of his intelligence in literary, but he did not lose his hope and continue with his career. Finally The Old Man and the Sea comes up with storm. Hemingway never gives up search for his treasure in the world and find it in the end because he knows the world, it is just like the sea with full of dream and nightmare, he knows the world is fair just like the sea, if he insists of what he think is true, he will find what he wants and win prize of the world.
So both Santiago and Hemingway show to us that world is cruel but worth fighting for. Man should fight in his battle for what he thinks is treasure no matter he is in good condition or not. The world is beautiful whenever it offers you treasures or dangers. Do not lose hope and complain to the world but win your honor with your fight.
C. Hemingway”s Attitude towards the Enemy Reflected through the Symbol of Shark
Shark is the dark force in novel, but Hemingway put a deeper meaning in these creatures. Some study shows the shark stand for the literary reporters in Hemingway”s time, I do agree with this kind of opinion.
The shark that comes first and alone is different from the other sharks which eat up the old man”s marlin together. I think this shark stands for the first reporter who announces Hemingway is no longer as good as before. In the novel, the old man fights with this shark fair and honorable. This shark is described as a warrior by Hemingway, he is huge, powerful and beautiful. It is he who drives the old man”s emotion to protect his marlin. And the first shark even dies as a warrior. Hemingway put a lot of focus to describe his die to show he is special. The first shark wins the old man”s respect even they are enemies and one of them must loses in the price of his life. We can see that Hemingway respect the first one who dare to hold a battle with him because he know it need a lot of courage and they are both warrior no matter who win in the end.
Being different with the first shark, the other sharks are the true evil force and ignored by the old man. They are thieves with no courage to fight along. Comparing with the first shark, they are small, ugly and cold-blood. The old man thinks they are useless even easy to fight against. The old man looks down upon these small creatures. As for Hemingway himself, the shark symbolizes the reporters who come up to talk about his failure. Hemingway hates these who have no thought but just follow other”s opinion to show their intelligence. They want nothing but money to enjoy just like the shark want meat to survival. They are not worth fighting and only can be ignored by the author.
D. Hemingway”s Attitude towards the Achievements Reflected through the symbol of Marlin
The marlin is achievement for the old man. It reflects Hemingway”s attitude towards the achievements in his life.
When the old man hasn”t fished anything for a long time, or he is far away from the achievement for some reasons, he does not feel depress or give up fishing. But insists to go and have a try again. It shows the resistance to failure. Hemingway also does not give up when all of the world think he is run out of ability. Both the old man and Hemingway believe what they think as precious, and keep on searching for it. After the old man gets marlin out of his imagination, he fights to protect his achievement with sharks. The old man never gives up even facing the enemy more powerful than himself. Being similar with the old man, Hemingway never agrees with the report that Hemingway was the history. They both can not be conquered by the so called fate.
But in the end of the story, the marlin is no longer the huge achievement but is eaten up by sharks with only skeleton left. It symbolizes a totally lose of the old man in some way. Even so the old man still holds his confidence to go fishing again. It implies that the old man just focuses on the fight itself but not the consequence of the fishing. Hemingway agrees with it and he also do as it. When The Old Man and the Sea is published, he changes his pen name, and he still keeps silence even in the storm of success. It shows that Hemingway only enjoy the fun of fight, but not if he win or not.
To sum up, symbolism is a noted writing characteristic in The Old Man and the Sea. The old man, the sea, the marlin, the lions and so on and so forth, to a large degree has deep symbolic meanings respectively. I venture to say that the book is like a complex building built with unaccountable symbols. One can get different kinds of interpretations in accordance with a variety of points of views. And one also attains different kinds of symbols from several respects. In addition, by using symbolism Hemingway succeeded in reaching his goal of conveying the main theme of the story-courage is a way leading to success. In other words, a man can be destroyed but not be defeated.
Both readers and critics give the works—The Old Man and the Sea so high comment just because of the artful and successful use of symbolism. The title is a symbol that the old man stands for the human beings and the sea symbolizes nature, the simple story could be eyed as a metaphor of a struggle between man and nature. Just as Hemingway once spoke highly of his artistic achievement in the great work that The Old Man and the Sea is the only best work during his lifelong literary creation．The work is also rewarded as the best magnum opus for symbolism.
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