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A STEP BEYOND
TESTS AND ANSWERS
ANSWERS - TEST 2
11. Almost simplistically, the sea provides the setting. Without it, there would be no story. But it's much more than that. The sea is the biggest thing both in type and in area that we have here on earth. Confronted with the vast expanse of the sea, a person nearly always experiences a "bigger than me" feeling. Consequently, the sea has often been used in fiction as a symbol of life or the mother of life. A journey on the sea is often, in fiction, a symbolic journey through life, with all the accompanying things and events likewise acquiring symbolic significance. Santiago, as many people before and after him, sees the sea as living and personal.
12. The viewpoint here depends upon one's definition of tragedy and tragic characters. If "tragedy" is taken in a more common sense to mean simply a person to whom bad things happen, then certainly he's supremely qualified.
But sometimes "tragic" is used in literature in a more narrow sense to describe a character who comes to an unfortunate end because of some flaw in his or her character. In this case, the prime suspect is Santiago for going out "too far," which can be taken to mean various forms of sinfulness. The source of defeat, then, is from within. Santiago himself mentions the possibility. Do you accept this possibility?
13. A story pattern is classically composed of these elements: INTRODUCTION or exposition, which sets the scene; RISING ACTION, an initial, complicating event which begins the conflict followed by a series of events (sometimes called "crises") that heighten it; a CLIMAX, in which the conflict is resolved; and the DENOUEMENT or falling action, which concludes the story.
The Old Man and the Sea follows this pattern with precision. INTRODUCTION: Santiago and Manolin talk and prepare for the following morning. RISING ACTION: Santiago's three days on the sea are filled with an increasing series of events which raise the tension. CLIMAX: The marlin is finally destroyed by the sharks. DENOUEMENT: Santiago struggles to his shack and is found by the boy.
Our story also includes two other "optional" elements of a classic story pattern: FORESHADOWING, a suggestion or hint of what is to come or what might come; TECHNICAL CLIMAX, a point at which the outcome of the story seems apparent to the reader, even though it hasn't happened yet. Skim the story to find your choice for this technical climax. At what point do you feel it becomes apparent that sharks will destroy the marlin?
14. a. Santiago will die as a result of the terrible strain and some
injury sustained during his experience.
15. Hemingway's much-quoted explanation about making "a real old man, a real boy, a real sea, and a real fish and a real shark" originally appeared in Time, December 13, 1954 (Pacific edition). He added: "But if I make them good and true enough, they would mean many things."
This seems like an open admission that the story is an allegorical piece except for the word "many." We frequently want a fable to mean a single, agreed upon, definite thing, as though sufficient study of the text would produce an inescapable single moral or lesson. That may be true of Aesop, but it certainly isn't true of Hemingway in The Old Man and the Sea.
It doesn't have to be, either. And there are many qualities of this story which make it ripe for being interpreted as an allegory. One is the singleness, the aloneness of the main character, who operates entirely by himself through 80 percent of the story's pages. Another, as we've mentioned before, is the setting: the vast, mysterious sea.