Transcendentalism In Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man And The Sea

Decent Essays

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway follows a small portion in the life of an old man named Santiago. Santiago has lived in the same town for many years working as a fisherman. He has had great success in the past, but recently has found himself catching very few fish. He meets a young boy who helps him prepare for his journies. The young boy helps care for Santiago and is greatly inspired by him. Santiago decides one day to take a voyage and catch fish. However, when he starts fishing, he gets dragged along by a very large fish who carries him and his boat far out to sea. Throughout Santiago's journey wrestling the fish, it is revealed through his actions and thoughts that he is clearly representative of a Transcendentalist. The …show more content…

Although he is grateful for the little boy who provides him with company from time to time, most of the people in his village do not respect him. These private tendencies and Santiago’s willingness to stray from the crowd indicate that he is a Transcendentalist.
Another important aspect of Santiago’s personality is his optimism and resilience. Although not associated with all transcendentalists, the ability to view events in a positive light is very important for a Transcendentalist to possess. Thoreau describes this attribute as being the way in which we see the beauty all around us, by taking the bad and viewing it in a positive manner. Santiago does exactly this by always accepting the hand he is dealt. After days out at sea in a very painful position, he states, “He did not truly feel good because the pain from the cord across his back had almost passed pain and gone into a dullness that he mistrusted. But I have had worse things than that, he thought. My hand is only cut a little and the cramp is gone from the other. My legs are all right. Also now I have gained on him in the question of sustenance.” (Hemingway 74). Santiago feels that his injuries are not important, as he has experienced worse pain and what is more important to him at the time is catching the fish. Later in the book, after he finally catches the huge fish, it gets eaten by sharks on his way back to shore. Unlike a typical

Get Access