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The Concept of Nature in the Old Man and the Sea

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We see that literature has been attributed with the function of utilizing the explicable nature to probe deep into inner reality of humankind. Also, through considering the multifaceted essence of nature, we can deduce that indifferent aspect of nature has been adopted as the mere concept for the character development. Being a noteworthy epitome of this concept, The Old Man and the Sea (1952) by Ernest Hemingway features protagonist in whose personalities the qualities of hope, tenacity and love are encoded. However, while reflecting the concept in his work, the author, I assume, displayed personal observational elements, fundamentally culminating in an output with minute substantial elements in terms of the approach of nature to humankind. In this sense, by taking consideration of the fact that nature is a crucial landmark in understanding of humanly values, this paper aims to analyse the organic relationship between protagonist and nature, thereby explicitly pointing up the position of nature in human life as portraited in this work.

The novel entitled as the Old Man and the Sea writes a sea voyage putting accents upon Santiago’s inner harmonious world, thus paving the way for the readers to appreciate his relationship with nature and the nucleus of his personality. Santiago is an old man who has been experiencing ignominy by his community due to his failure in fishing for 84 days. Considering that he is self-fulfilled in the past, being strong and conversant with the sea, perseverance leads him to the ordeal in sea so as to capture the marlin through which he intends to jettison the interpellation as an “unsuccessful”. In this sense, one can conclude that Santiago tries to utilize sea, nature if I daresay, in order to re-gain his fulfilment. To crystallize my profession, the recurring images of “the past” with the striking images of the lions which denote power encapsulate his current waning strength. Santiago by no means does bear that strength and reiterates that “I wish I had the boy” throughout his adventure. Still, even though his vitality has withered away to a great extent, his incentive, which is machismo, provides him with the endurance that he needs. He says that “A man can be destroyed but not defeated”. Furthermore, the reader could also notice that there exists a close relationship between him and his “la mar”. To put it more simply, Santiago carries the concepts of unity with the sea. An apt quotation for this statement, he is described as “…his eyes were the same colour as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated”. At some point, Hemingway’s use of positive adjective indicates the pillars of Santiago’s personality centred upon hope as in “Every day is a new day”. Santiago’s approach to nature, moreover, is crucial point that requires consideration in that he respects every species in the sea, which makes him an ecocentric person. He states that “I love you and respect you…”. This respect is such that he commences talking to the birds, and thereafter to the marlin which is “the brother” he is determined to kill. He is a considered brother and utters that “I wish I could feed him. He is my brother”.

Still, the nature is indifferent to all actions that human beings make and could reclaim whatever she gives. In this vein, Hemingway, even if unconsciously, assigned sea the role of the Great Mother Goddess. Santiago, during his procession to kill the marlin, reflects the plight of man, which induces the indifferent aspect of nature as the archetype suggests. He is explicitly against a “greater, or more beautiful” entity emphasizing the relegation of humankind by nature. Therefore, Santiago undergoes egregious experiences. These experiences are such that he, lacking the affiliation to any religion, is led to propitiate the God to help him. He says “I am not religious…I promise to make a pilgrimage to the Virgin of Cobre if I catch him”, thus justifying our statement. Yet, from a secular point of view, I presume he begs nature to help him. She, concretely, aids him to catch the fish, and to regain his self-fulfilment. In parallel with this pronouncement, Santiago expresses his feeling by these words: “I think the great DiMaggio would be proud of me today”. However, as mentioned above, the nature embodies the qualities of the Great Mother Goddess, fundamentally enabling the reader to observe the bad side of hers. To illustrate my viewpoint, after she lets Santiago appreciate his transient sense of re-fulfilment, she attacks to rupture his feelings in a clandestine way, which exactly fortifies the image of the Great Mother Goddess. Santiago highly treasures his brother and expresses “I want to see him, and to touch and feel him. He is my fortune”. This thought of his shows us that the marine he has killed is the most important thing preoccupying him. Nevertheless, nature covets to re-claim her possession as if to mock him within her own domain. Sharks, at this point, are the puppets of hers to realize her intent plan. Although Santiago challenges these creatures through his breadth of knowledge, the primordial potency of nature undermines his waning strength and, eventually, he is defeated by nature. In this context, Santiago is not proposed any situation to shift the stance of the people on his failure, albeit all his efforts. Being aware of this situation, Santiago expresses that “They beat me, Manolin. They truly beat me”. As concluded, it seems that nature is reflected as an indifferent phenomenon that Santiago endeavours to utilize for his purpose in this work. Despite Santiago’s harmony with the nature and his veneration of nature, her provision of success for him is coincident with his failure.

All in all, we can understand that humankind is part of nature, which exposes humankind to the indifference aspect of nature. From this masterpiece, we can conclude that humankind could be catapulted into the cordial, concurrently volatile, experiences which can be understood as punitive action by nature. However, human beings eventually concede that whilst nature underpins the sequence of unpalatable events, she is also showing the reality of life, thus paving the way for self-completion and bolstering the spirit as happened in this work.

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