The Representation of Individuality in the Old Man and the Sea

1846 Words Jan 1st, 2009 8 Pages
abranches 1

john abranches

Mr. hope


6 June 2007

The Representation of Individuality in The Old Man and the Sea

As David Banach once explained in a lecture based on the Existentialist’s view, “The modern conception of man is characterized, more than anything else, by individualism. Existentialism can be seen as a rigorous attempt to work out of the implications of this individualism” (Taylor 52). The Existentialist conceptions of freedom and value arise from their view of the individual. Sartre’s existentialism explains “existence is self-making-in-a-situation” (Fackenheim 130) which outlines that one’s identity is not shaped by culture or by nature, but to “exist” is exactly what forms such an identity. Since we are
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The theory of existentialism is developed in the novel through Santiago’s inner and physical struggles. The development is increasingly clear as the novel unfolds. Through Santiago’s decision to prove his fate, it demonstrates a fundamental point of existentialism- only you yourself can determine what you can be without and predestined nature or essence (Taylor 148-152). Santiago’s decides to prove his independence by freely deciding to continue with the hunt to prove to himself and the fish that he is strong mentally and physically, “Although it is unjust, he thought. But I will show him what a man can do and what a man endures: ‘I told the boy I was a strange old man,’ he said. ‘Now is when I must prove it’” (66). The fish and he, Santiago reflects, are “Beyond all people in the world” (74). They have become connected through the irony of the conquering of defeat. They have lasted longer than they themselves could have believed. They are “joined together” (77) and there is “no one to help either one of us” (85). Santiago goes on to say that that it doesn’t matter who kills whom. There is, in the old man’s estimation, some sense in this order. “I have to try to kill the stars […] But it is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers” (85). Man can achieve greatness only when placed in a well-matched contest

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