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Monday, August 16, 2010

The Old Man and the Sea: Lions on the Beach

In Ernest Hemingway's novella, The Old Man and the Sea, the main character, Santiago, has a recurring dream of a pride of lions playing together on the beach of Africa, a memory he has from a fishing trip along the coast of Africa. He apparently remembers the lions crawling over each other and just having fun, but he was not in any danger, for he was still out on the fishing vessel. Santiago dreams of this memory three times during the five-day story, and he also mentions that he had had the dream repeatedly for quite a long time before he goes on the fishing trip to find the marlin. The first time he has the dream is the night before he ventures far out, and he still had no idea of what is to come, so he is able to rest peacefully. The second occurs during his fight with the marlin when he is able to sleep briefly in the night and still hold onto the grand fish. The final time he dreams of the lions on the beach is when he is once again at home in his own bed and can sleep soundly knowing his friend, Manolin, is still there. The last viewing of the dream is the most comforting and heartwarming because the old man had just gone through three days of battle with hardly any rest to take his mind away from it all. It is such a fitting end to the book because it shows Santiago is happy with everything that happened as a whole, despite all the difficulties and troubles along the way. Since Santiago associates the lions on the beach with his childhood of fishing, the lions are symbols of the circle of life where such ferocious predators always have the side of compassion and adorability. Also because of that, the dream shows the harmony between life and death. The predators (death) are, in this case, playing and so full of life that I cannot help but notice the grace and beauty of the line between life and death.

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