“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet,” Helen Keller once said. “Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition be inspired, and success achieved.” Through suffering emerges triumph and through struggle there is honor. Ernest Hemingway’s fictional novella, The Old Man and the Sea, is a simply written account which tells about an old man’s courage, perseverance, and his victory in spite of being destroyed. The protagonist Santiago, is an elderly fisherman, who recently does not seem so successful in his fishing career; however, one day, as he goes out to sea, a large marlin seems to have bit his hook. After spending three days at sea in pursuit of the fish, though returning home empty handed, Santiago earns the respect he deserves for his dedication and undying determination despite the odds. In The Old Man and the Sea honor in struggle and suffering is shown in Santiago’s hero, DiMaggio, the way Santiago is compared with Christ, and Santiago’s ultimate battle with the Marlin.
Santiago shows his admiration for DiMaggio, a baseball player, because of their similar situations and the way that both DiMaggio and Santiago overcame their pain to achieve their dreams as a baseball player or as a fisherman. Trying to explain his admiration for DiMaggio, Santiago tells Manolin, his friend and student, “I would like to take the great DiMaggio fishing. They say his father was a fisherman. Maybe he was as poor as we are and would understand (22).” Similar to Santiago, DiMaggio’s father was also fisherman, suggesting that DiMaggio came from humble circumstances like Santiago’s; additionally, DiMaggio also has a bone spur in his heel, yet despite his health condition, he plays as well as other p…
In The Old Man and the Sea, honor is portrayed through suffering and destruction by Santiago’s admiration for DiMaggio, Santiago’s Christ-like character, and most significantly, Santiago’s struggle with the marlin. DiMaggio is special to Santiago because he overcomes his pain and possibly his poverty to become an exceptional baseball player. Santiago and Christ both are destroyed physically; however, both are not at all defeated. In fact, Christ rises from death in glory, and Santiago’s struggles and fatigues turn into new determination after killing the fish. Santiago is honored after he brings the fish home, because he has suffered hunger, thirst, loneliness, pain, out at sea, yet he finds healing and life through the fish he tries so hard to catch and protect. After all, when something is truly worth fighting for, it is won with pride and triumph.