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The Old Man and The Sea
Santiago had gone so long without catching a fish even though he had fished every day. He's been trying hard and after all that he still doesn't have anything to show for it.
"He had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish."(1)
Sometimes your best efforts go without reward.
Santiago changes from beginning to the end. In the beginning Santiago tells Manolin to go and he doesn't want Manolin to help him. Hemingway stated, “'No,' the old man said. 'You’re with a lucky boat. Stay with them.'”(1) Santiago is refusing the boy's help because Manolin's parents won't let him help Santiago. During the story Santiago is on the boat and he wishes Manolin was there to help wet the rope but then he corrects himself. "If the boy was here he would wet the coils of line, he thought."(23) Santiago wished he hadn't refused the boys help because then the boy could have wet the line for him. Because Santiago's hands would not be raw and cut if the rope was wet. In the end Santiago just lets Manolin help him because he is too weak to do it himself. “Let no one disturb him.”(34) Manolin helped Santiago and Santiago didn't refuse his help because he was too tired to. In the end Santiago sleeps and drinks beer that Manolin got him. Meaning Santiago is not refusing Manolin's help showing his change. He learned to accept help from others.
The marlin represents reward. The marlin is dead and it's attracting sharks. Santiago "could hear the noise of skin and flesh ripping"(28) off the marlin as the shark bit into it. The marlin was the reward and even with Santiago's best efforts the shark took it from him.
The sharks represent the obstacles in Santiago's way. The sharks "would cut the turtles’ legs and flippers off when the turtles were asleep on the surface."(30) The sharks are evil and hateful and tore pieces off the marlin because they could, not because they needed to.
The shack represents poverty. It "was made of the tough budshields of the royal palm which are called guano."(3) The shack is a symbol of his poverty because even though he fishes and make some money he doesn't make enough so he is poor.
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