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TERM PAPER IDEAS / ESSAY TOPICS

GOOD/EVIL

1. Santiago (perhaps representing mankind) is a good, even saintly person in his own way.
2. Santiago, like all of us, is a sinner and suffers the consequences of his sin.
3. Santiago's basic sin was that of pride: wanting to accomplish too much.
4. The forces of evil in life are both powerful and unavoidable. (Santiago is virtually helpless against the sharks.)
5. Evil triumphs in the end. (The marlin is destroyed.)
6. Evil can cause harm and suffering but cannot ultimately triumph. Santiago's courage allows him to prevail.

SUFFERING

1. Suffering is unavoidable because it comes from being what you are.
2. Suffering is necessary to prove one's worth.
3. Suffering brings redemption or salvation

DEFEAT/VICTORY

1. Santiago has been defeated by the sharks but has not been destroyed as a person.
2. Santiago has been destroyed by the experience (he may die or be unable to fish again) but has not been truly defeated.
3. Santiago has been both defeated and destroyed by the experience.
4. The human spirit can endure anything through sheer willpower and thus emerge with at least a spiritual victory.


PRAYER/RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

1. Prayer does not accomplish anything; it changes neither God nor the person praying.
2. Prayer accomplishes nothing if it is mechanical and used only to barter with God.
3. Prayers for a purely selfish concern are not answered.
4. God often answers prayers in a different way. (Santiago did not come home with the fish, but he did survive.)

LOVE/COMMUNITY

1. People need and depend on each other; without each other, we cannot survive.
2. Love is the most powerful of forces.
3. We share a mysterious kinship with every created thing: other people, animals, even objects in the universe such as stars.

LONELINESS

1. Loneliness in old age is inevitable, as Santiago says.
2. In loneliness a person finds what he or she is really capable of doing.
3. Loneliness provides time to think and learn who you really are.

JUSTICE/INJUSTICE

1. It is unfair that Santiago (or anyone in similar circumstances) should have to battle alone.
2. Life is harsh but just; in the end, Santiago is justly punished.
3. Life is harsh and unjust; like so many people before and after him, Santiago does not receive the due reward of his labor.
4. Santiago's poverty is a social concern that the community should do something about.

MANOLIN

1. Manolin's character: he is loyal, loving, and caring.
2. Manolin's apprenticeship: he has learned many things from the old man-about life, as well as about fishing.
3. Manolin is too loyal and dedicated to be believable.

SANTIAGO

1. Santiago is/is not appropriate as a central figure in an allegory.
2. Santiago as teacher: what and how has he taught the boy?
3. Discuss Santiago as father. (He commands more loyalty than the boy's real father.)

OLD AGE

1. Old age can be a friend to youth; the generation gap does not have to exist.
2. Old age can bring life's greatest triumphs.
3. Old age is a curse.
4. Old age is a richness of experience and wisdom.

MISCELLANEOUS

1. A life lived close to nature, as Santiago's, is both simpler and richer than life in a technological society.
2. Technology can conquer or at least control the forces of nature.

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