Man’s Relationship With Nature in the Old Man and the Sea

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 2
Word count: 614
Topics: Book, Ernest Hemingway, Nature, The Old Man and the Sea

Hemingway states that the old man was old in all ways except for his eyes, which were similar to the sea, showing their resilience and cheerfulness. As a result, they symbolically describe his relationship with nature through the mentioned physical looks. Santiago, the old man, has a special relationship with the sea and the creatures living within it, especially when he captures the fish he has been waiting for months, the Marlin, which shows his knowledge, respect, and appreciation for nature all that comes along with it.

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Analysis of Themes and Ideas

First, though Hemingway uses various themes, the major one is the relationship between man and animal. Thus, every form of nature must be accorded the same respect as valuable beings. Therefore, this can be supported by the old man’s admiration of the sea, his respect for the Marlin, and the reality of the shark attack. For example, Santiago only has the sea and its habitants as his friends and companions with who he spends most of his time. Therefore, he has a lot of admiration for the sea and its inhabitants that live within it. Hemingway (1995, pp. 48-49) illustrates his desire, respect, and love for nature when he states that the Marlin is extraordinary, magnificent, and tough. These features lead the old man to describe the fish and the sea life as capable competitors, companions, or even family (Hemingway, 1995, p. 50).

Furthermore, Hemingway (1995, p.75) states that Marlin is a friend and a brother to him too. He further exclaims that he has never encountered or heard of such a fish, and though he will kill him, he is glad the stars do not share the same fate as the fish. Therefore, Santiago considers all of the nature around him friendly and has some special attachment to it; thus, he feels for the animals pursued by others and him too (Sabudu, 2020). As a result, though he understands that death is inevitable, it is also necessary for life to be sustained. Lastly, the old man has a unique relationship with nature; he knows best the sea and where fish are; thus, he can catch them (Zainuddin, 2020). At the same time, he knows how to follow the seabirds who also pursue the fish, which shows his unique relationship with nature.

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However, regardless of the close connection the old man has with nature, especially the fish, since he is a fisherman, he dedicates his life to chasing the fish, precisely the Marlin. Thus, this provides meaning to his life and existence. For example, he insists on staying with the fish till one of them paves the way for the other, and as a result, he pits all of his pain, pride, and strength against the fish, thus, conquering it. Nevertheless, though he does not love all creatures from the deep blue sea, he shows respect for each one. Also, he claims the Marlin is wonderful, strange, strong, and wise; thus, his fight against it has no panic (Andersen, 2016). Lastly, the old man and the Marlin are both literally and figuratively connected because the outcome of their fight determines the fate of both of them. This shows that Santiago considers nature an equal and worthy opponent, thus closely related to nature.


Therefore, Santiago is portrayed as having a special relationship with the sea, its creatures, and nature. For example, when he captures the fish he had been waiting for months, the Marlin, it clearly shows his antics, knowledge, respect, and appreciation for nature and all that comes with it. Though he fights against the fish, this does not portray him as against nature but rather shows that he takes nature and all its inhabitants as equal opponents.

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  1. Andersen, J. A. (2016). An old man and the “sea of leadership.” Journal of Leadership Studies9(4), 70-81.
  2. Hemingway, E. (1995). The Old Man and the Sea. 1952. New York: Scribner.
  3. Sabudu, D. (2020). The Reflection of loyalty in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Jurnal Penelitian Humaniora21(1), 24-32.
  4. Zainuddin, Z. (2020). Intrinsic element in the Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Prosodi14(2), 113-118.
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