6 June 2023
How Long Did Santiago’s Arm-Wrestling Match Last?
Santiago’s arm-wrestling match is one of the most famous scenes in Ernest Hemingway’s classic novella “The Old Man and the Sea.” In this scene, Santiago, an old fisherman, engages in an intense arm-wrestling match with a younger and stronger opponent. The scene is an allegory for the struggle between youth and old age, strength and wisdom, and determination and defeat. But the question that many readers ask is, how long did Santiago’s arm-wrestling match last?
The answer is not explicitly stated in the novella, but there are some clues that we can use to make an educated guess. Here are some factors that may have influenced the duration of the arm-wrestling match:
The Strength of the Opponent
The young fisherman who challenges Santiago to the arm-wrestling match is described as “a huge man, very strong and very arrogant.” This suggests that he has a considerable advantage in terms of physical strength over Santiago. However, Santiago is also described as having “old man strength,” which is a combination of experience, technique, and willpower that compensates for his age and frailty. Therefore, the duration of the arm-wrestling match may depend on how well Santiago can use his old man strength to counteract his opponent’s brute force.
The Rules of the Arm-Wrestling Match
The novella does not provide any specific details about the rules of the arm-wrestling match, such as whether it is a best-of-three or best-of-five contest, whether there are time limits or breaks between rounds, or whether there are any penalties or fouls for illegal moves. These factors could affect the duration of the match, as they may give one participant an advantage over the other or prolong the match if both participants are evenly matched.
The Mental State of Santiago
Throughout the novella, Santiago is portrayed as a stoic and resilient character who faces numerous obstacles and setbacks with grace and dignity. However, he is also prone to self-doubt and despair, especially when he reflects on his past failures as a fisherman and the possibility of returning home empty-handed yet again. The mental state of Santiago could influence the duration of the arm-wrestling match, as he may lose his focus and stamina if he becomes too distracted by his thoughts or emotions.
The Symbolic Significance of the Arm-Wrestling Match
Finally, we should consider the symbolic significance of the arm-wrestling match in the context of the novella. As mentioned earlier, the match represents a conflict between youth and old age, strength and wisdom, and determination and defeat. Therefore, the duration of the match may reflect the outcome of this struggle. If Santiago wins quickly and decisively, it may suggest that he has triumphed over his youthful and arrogant opponent and proven his worth as a fisherman. If the match is long and grueling, it may suggest that Santiago is struggling to hold his own against the forces of nature and time.
In conclusion, we cannot say for certain how long Santiago’s arm-wrestling match lasted, as the novella does not provide a clear answer. However, by considering the factors discussed above, we can speculate that the duration of the match was likely influenced by the strength of the opponent, the rules of the match, the mental state of Santiago, and the symbolic significance of the match. Regardless of how long it lasted, the arm-wrestling match remains a memorable and poignant moment in Hemingway’s masterpiece.