The Old Man and the Sea
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. What is the role of the sea in The Old Man and the Sea?
2. Santiago is considered by many readers to be a tragic hero, in that his greatest strength—his pride—leads to his eventual downfall. Discuss the role of pride in Santiago’s plight.
3. Discuss religious symbolism in The Old Man and the Sea. To what effect does Hemingway employ such images?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Discuss Hemingway’s “iceberg” principle of writing in relation to The Old Man and the Sea.
2. What significance do the lions on the beach have for the old man?
3. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated,” says the old man after the first shark attack. At the end of the story, is the old man defeated? Why or why not?
4. The Old Man and the Sea is, essentially, the story of a single character. Indeed, other than the old man, only one human being receives any kind of prolonged attention. Discuss the role of Manolin in the novella. Is he necessary to the book?
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