Old Man and the Sea - Santiago is Hemingway

There is an old saying in the english language, "Every piece of writing is at least a little bit autobiographical." This may be true in all cases, but it is clearly predominant in Ernest Hemingway's "Old Man and the Sea." It is evident that Hemingway modeled the main character, Santiago after his own person, and that the desires, the mentality, and the lifestyle of the old man are identical to Hemingway's.
Santiago is an old fisherman who lives in a small coast town in Cuba. At the time that Hemingway wrote the story, he was also an elderly gentlemen and was such an avid fisherman throughout his life, that books such as "Ernest Hemingway, The Angler As Artist." were written on the sole subject of how this obsession influenced Hemingway's writing. Furthermore, he fished off the coast of Cuba so much that he decided to "buy the 'Finca Vigia' in Cuba, a substantial estate located about fifteen miles from downtown Havana . . ." For entertainment Santiago would "read the baseball." Meanhile Hemingway often "relied on baseball analogies" in his writing, suggesting that he also loved the game. These similarities between Santiago's lifestyle and Hemingway's cannot be ignored or passed off as coincidence because they are much too precise. Already, from these prominent identical traits it is evident that Hemingway modeled the character of Santiago after his own person.
Hemingway had a very characteristic view of life. He believed it was admirable to risk one's life in order to test one's limits. His love of bullfighting clearly demonstrated this. Raymond S. Nelson, Hemingway scholar, states, "He saw bullfighting as tragic ritual, and he lionized the better bullfighters as men who risked death every time they entered the arena -- a stance he admired and chose for himself in other ways." One example of Hemingway choosing this stance for himself was when "he shot and dropped a charging Cape buffalo a few feet before the enraged animal would have killed him." This daring act of Hemingway's sounds peculiarly similar to the sport of bullfighting, and is an excellent example of Hemingway's obsession with courting death. Scholar, John Smith believes that "Hemingway's whole life and outlook suggest that, if he had known in advance of this deadly possibility, he would have embraced it even more enthusiastically." Very similarly, and not so coincidentally, Santiago had this very same mindset. He also believes in testing one's limits and admits as much when he tells himself, ". . . I will show him what a man can do and what a man endures." He is telling himself that he will go to his very last limits to prove to the fish his prowess. Santiago, not so strangely like Hemingway, believes that courting death is admirable. This is most clearly shown when he proclaims to the fish, "Come on and kill me." At this point he has already been fighting the fish for days now, he could easily cut the fish loose, but he instead decides to test his limits and risk death by holding on to the fish as a certain Ernest Hemingway might do. Indeed, it cannot be mere coincidence that Hemingway and Santiago share the same lifestyle as well as the same mindset, therefore, logically Hemingway has portrayed himself through the character of Santiago.
At the time that he was writing "The Old Man and the Sea," Hemingway's reputation was less than distinguished. "He had bet his sagging reputation on 'Across the River' and he had lost, badly." Before Santiago hooked the great fish his reputation was not in such great shape either. In fact, "he had gone eighty four days now without taking a fish." His reputation was so bad that "many of the fishermen made fun of the old man . . ." Hemingway decided to make one last attempt to revive his reputation and "He bet it again on 'The Old Man and the Sea," Santiago decided to make one last attempt to revive his reputation with the boy saying, "I told the boy I was a strange old man, . . .Now I must prove it." Hemingway expert, Gerry Brenner claims, "Santiago's perseverance in bringing home his great fish, an act that reestablishes his claim as the community's greatest fisherman, clearly mirrors Hemingway's wish to restore his flagging reputation."