Role of DiMaggio in “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway

In the novella, The Old Man and the Sea, a powerful recurring memory of the old man, besides that of the boy, is DiMaggio, the great baseball player. Santiago is a great admirer of DiMaggio, whose memory, like the boy’s, supplies fresh energy to him in his struggles on the sea. He feels a special affinity with DiMaggio, whose father was a fisherman, and wishes to take the great player fishing. DiMaggio is his role model in his efforts to achieve excellence. Therefore, he wants to do things perfectly so that DiMaggio may approve his performance:

But I must have confidence and I must be worthy of the great DiMaggio who does all things perfectly even with the pain of the bone spur in his heel.

Santiago does not know what a bone spur is, but knows that it must be a very painful condition. If DiMaggio has a bone spur, Santiago’s hands and back hurt equally badly, and this gives him some satisfaction. After killing the great marlin, the old man feels happy and thinks that the great DiMaggio would be proud of him.

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