The Old Man and the Sea


Ernest Hemingway

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Youth and Age Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
Pride Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
Man and Nature Theme Icon
Christian Allegory Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Old Man and the Sea, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Youth and Age Theme Icon

The title of the novella, The Old Man and the Sea, suggests the critical thematic role that age plays in the story. The book's two principal characters, Santiago and Manolin, represent the old and the young, and a beautiful harmony develops between them. What one lacks, the other provides. Manolin, for example, has energy and enthusiasm. He finds food and clothing for Santiago, and encourages him despite his bad luck. Santiago, in turn, has wisdom and experience. He tells Manolin stories about baseball and teaches him to fish. Santiago's determination to be a good role model for Manolin is one of his main motivations in battling the marlin for three days—he wants to show Manolin "what a man can do."

Santiago's age is also important to the novella because it has made him physically weak. Without this weakness, his triumph would not be so meaningful to him. As Santiago says, he "had seen many [fish] that weighed more than a thousand pounds and had caught two of that size in his life, but never alone" and never as an old man. Santiago finds solace and strength in remembering his youth, which is symbolized by the lions on the beach that he sees in his dreams. He recalls these lions—slow, graceful but fierce creatures—from the perspective of an old man. In doing so, he realizes that he too, although slow, can still be a formidable opponent.

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Youth and Age ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Youth and Age appears in each chapter of The Old Man and the Sea. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Youth and Age Quotes in The Old Man and the Sea

Below you will find the important quotes in The Old Man and the Sea related to the theme of Youth and Age.
Day One Quotes
Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.
Related Characters: Santiago
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy.
Related Characters: Santiago, Manolin
Related Symbols: Lions
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Day Five Quotes
"How much did you suffer?"
"Plenty," the old man said.
Related Characters: Manolin (speaker)
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:
"To hell with luck," the boy said. "I'll bring the luck with me."
Related Characters: Manolin (speaker)
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis: