Monday, August 16, 2010

The Old Man and the Sea: Righteous Kill?

Toward the end of Ernest Hemingway's classic novella, The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago feels quite uncertain whether he was right in killing the marlin or not. He is afraid he has done more bad than good because of the end result of the fish, being entirely torn apart by savages (the sharks). It seems unfair to the beautiful and marvelous marlin to have been stripped of its glorious meat. There is a quote from the book that is fitting and it runs as so: "'You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food,' he thought. 'You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive, and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it?'" Santiago wages this debate within himself for nearly the entire venture on the seas, but he finally voices himself at this point because everything is culminating into a horrible end for the fishing trip of a lifetime. In the end, Santiago puts away these thoughts and settles himself on the kill being fine with him. He feels extremely apologetic toward the marlin for having it disgraced in such a shameful fashion. In the quote, Santiago expresses why he killed the amazing fish: his own pride. He was too proud of the catch to let it go, too proud of himself for finding the fish and knowing where to look, and too proud of his skills as a fisherman and the thought of being able to feed the entire town with the meat from the marlin. I think Santiago does an excellent job of justifying his decision to continue pursuing the catch of the marlin through to the very end. It would have been amazing to be able to bring the fish into shore and to gloat about it, but it was really just unfortunate that the marlin was stolen on the journey back to land.

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