In Ernest Hemmingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago’s search for The Big Fish is a means for turning his luck and reputation around. More than just a mere fish, the marlin of his dreams is an elusive phantasm, a possibility to focus on, an ideal concept to draw strength from and a glimmering beacon of hope to follow through what is otherwise a harsh and basic existence.
The Old Man and The Sea is a story of an immense psychological stand off. It’s a tale of a world-weary man who’s caught between being a figure of strength to a boy, and a man who would rather chase living treasures of the ocean by day and figments of his dreams by night.
Hemmingway presents Santiago as a resolute and purposeful fisherman who is the product of his knowledge. However, as the sea has done to many a man, isolation, the necessary quest for sustenance, and a heightened awareness of the oceanic world that surrounds him deeply changes his views.
What follows is a duel with a silvery foe that he both hates and admires. Increasingly convinced of his own insignificance in the oceanic world, every minute detail becomes a major factor in Santiago’s situation. His is a mind-bendingly long, increasingly desperate and humbling struggle with the fish of his highest imaginings as well as the notion of his very own being.
To catch a fish of this magnitude is to test ones mortality, to face internal truths, to willingly pit oneself against the perils of mother nature as well as tap into successive realizations of the energy that sustains it all.
The Old Man and The Sea is the tale of a man’s encounter with the sublime.
Justin Andrews (Castlemaine Chapter)