Monday, March 8, 2010

Old Man and the Sea Essay Prompt

We encounter many, many obstacles throughout our entire lives. Almost everyone happens to have some sort of struggle every now and then and they vary in length and severity. Some of them affect us for a short time and some of them affect us for life. Obstacles could be physical or mental. In The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago struggles against many obstacles throughout the book. Santiago must struggle to survive, to stay fed and to catch the audacious and vexed admiral of all Marlin. Obstacles will always affect you in the long term no matter what is the subject.
Santiago is in the worst situation that anyone could be in, it has been 84 days since he had last caught a fish and selling his fish is his lone source of income. "Do you think we can buy a terminal of the lottery with an eighty-five? Tomorrow is the eighty-fifth day [of no fish]" (17). As of now, all Santiago is doing is surviving off what he can find and off the food that the boy can give him and he does not like this because a boy taking care of a man makes Santiago seem inferior.
This three month streak of bad luck affected Santiago because he was extremely hungry and worried that he could not catch a fish. He is an old man and obviously needs food more than anything because of his frailness. But, the 84 days of not catching a fish yet he is still fishing shows that he is devoted. This proved to be a great obstacle since it was more than physical but also mental because it lowered his morale.
When Santiago is on the boat, he had been holding the line leading to the hooked to the energetic marlin patiently for nearly a day now, and the one thing he needs when holding that line is strength. Santiago has been completely detached from the pain in his hand"Eat it now [the tuna] and it will strengthen the hand" (58). Holding a line with a 1500 pound marlin on the other side is no easy task, and a lonely, old man attempting this task must be even harder.
The tuna that Santiago has just caught was symbolic of his strength against the marlin which he needs to pursue and hold the line. This was an obstacle for Santiago because he needed all his strength to pull in that marlin and catching a separate fish on a separate line is much harder when you have an extremely large fish franticly pulling the boat.
Santiago did not know for sure the true size of the marlin. All that he knew was that "He is two feet longer than the skiff,..." (63). This is seems exaggerated even for a marlin because the skiff along is 16 feet long. The one thing that he did not know about the marlin was his weight, which of course you could not even tell by looking at him.
Even though Santiago had that 16 ft skiff, "...but four hours later the fish was still swimming steadily out to sea, towing the skiff, and the old man was still braced solidly with the line across his back". If a fish can tow you and a 16 ft boat out to sea, it must be big. This marlin was his big break, his winning lottery ticket and his pot of gold and he was optimistic and ecstatic for the catch. This is an obstacle to Santiago because how could a 1500 pound fish towing you out to sea NOT be an obstacle?
Santiago struggles very much as a fisherman in many ways, both mentally and physically. Being a fisherman is an obstacle in itself, the fish is the objective. What separates Santiago from the rest is that Santiago faced his obstacles head on, whether it be catching two fish at the same time or catching a three fourths of a ton marlin. At the end of the day, he figuratively won over these obstacles by persevering.

(By the way, the Literary Analysis Terms are in bold.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Third Quarter ORB Essay

Siddhartha , which may be one of the most influential novels of the 20th century, is the story of a man's life and his journey to find the meaning of his life. Siddhartha is a man who learns to think for himself after being allowed by his father to leave his family for a group of simple nomads to find a use for his life other than being a Brahmin's son. Towards the end of his life, he finally develops his own views on the meaning of life.
"[Siddhartha is] The true profession of man is to find his way to himself"
Herman Hesse is one of the most proficient authors I have ever read from, using an extremely large amount of description. The amount of description is not comparable to Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea because Hemingway describes the most insignificant elements of the plot in his book. Hesse makes sure he uses metaphors to ensure that the reader understands that they understand what Siddhartha and the characters of the book are saying.
Siddhartha is allowed to leave the Brahmin village by his father to find contempt in his life. He is lead to a group of ascetics, who learn to both pity and envy the world by living simply, fasting for months on end and wearing nearly nothing. After he hears of the Illustrious One, Buddha, he takes a pilgrimage to see him and leaves his friend Govinda who would like to continue to learn from him. He finds his way to a trading city and is consumed by lust and greed when he is taught by about love by a beautiful woman named Kamala. Disgusted by what he has done for the past two decades, he comes to the river and attempts to take his life, until he hears the Om, the word of perfection.
"Just as the potter's wheel, once set in motion, still turns for a long time and then turns only very slowly and stops, so did the wheel of the ascetic still revolve for a long time in Siddhartha's soul: it nearly come to a standstill." (76).
This book has taught me that the material is not the most important thing in life, but your beliefs are. Siddhartha is the book that has taught me the most that I have ever read, and I'm not talking about information, I am talking more along the lines of philosophy. This book has taught me more about life than anything I have ever experience. The book is a must read for everyone, this book is not only a work of fiction with a great plot but a lesson about life as well.