Orson Welles wrote: “Were born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that were not alone.” In The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Old Man and The Sea, written by Ernest Hemingway, both characters deal with their loneliness by different methods and end in different ways.
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The first important point to notice is what are Jay Gatsby and Santiago’s problems and the way they cope with it. Indeed, in The Great Gatsby, the main character, Jay Gatsby, is a wealthy, mysterious man living in a huge residence in West Egg. Every night, his house is the theater of his legendary parties, festivities and alcohol. It’s indeed said, in page forty five that “At least once a fortnight a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas and enough coloured lights to make a Christmas tree of Gatsby’s enormous garden”. Moreover, he lives alone with the staff in charge of the good looking of his house, like said: “[â€¦] eight servants, including an extra gardener, toiled all day with mops and scrubbing-brushes and hammers and garden-shears, repairing the ravages of the night before.” The paradoxical thing in The Great Gatsby is that, although his life seems amazing and always full of entertainment with his house full of guests, most of them he does not know: “In his blue garden men and girls came and went [â€¦]”, in actual facts this façade is only the way he could find to avoid his appalling loneliness. Because in reality, Jay Gatsby has only one dream: to see again his youth love, Daisy Buchanan. But the girl of his dream is already married to an arrogant millionaire who lives in East Egg, Tom. Everything seems to separate them, except maybe, the only man who does not enjoy Gatsby huge parties, the narrator of the story, Nick Carraway, a young salesman, next door neighbor of Gatsby, who happens to be Daisy’s cousin. During the story, Jay Gatsby admits that the only reason he came here in West Egg was to be closer from Daisy because he knew she was living near. Actually, in order to give himself a chance to find back his old love, he inflicts himself a lonely life.
In The Old Man and The Sea, Santiago suffers the same loneliness than Jay Gatsby. Fisherman with a bad reputation and poor, the old man lives alone since his only friend, his young apprentice Manolin had been forbidden to sail with Santiago because fate did not gave him a fish about eight four days. In the fourth page of the book, we learn that fate seems to be conspiring against Santiago because we can read that it was not the first long period without fish: “Remember how you went eighty-seven days without fish and then caught big ones every day for three weeks.” That is why the parents of Manolin decided to put him on another boat that the old man considers as a “lucky boat”, even if the young apprentice continues to take care of Santiago and tries to convince him to go fishing with him. But the old fisherman wants to prove himself that he is not too old to catch a big fish and is not “definitely salao”, the Cuban word for an unlucky person. This is how Santiago boards for a cruel battle against himself and against a fish which will cause him a lot of pains. Indeed, the old man will have to face the fish for three days and three nights, during which one he will be deeply on his own with his loneliness. Actually he will even talk with a part of himself, as his hand with in the forty sixth page: “Come on hand. Please come on”, as it was an independent part of him. He will also find a friendship with the fish like he says in the fifty sixth page: “The fish is my friend too”. Even if in the end, his goal is to kill him, he also finds out that because of the fish’s great dignity, no one will be dignified of eating the marlin.
So we can say that in both The Great Gatsby and The Old Man and The Sea, the important plot is how the main characters deal with their loneliness. Actually, this loneliness as the connecting thread of the stories will not lead to the same kind of end. We could almost say that Santiago’s end is better than Jay Gatsby’s one, by many ways.
Indeed, in The Great Gatsby, Jay’s happy ending will not be the one he was hoping for. Actually, Daisy, the girl of his dreams, will not want to speak to him again after a tragic accident where Gatsby could be accused of the murder of a woman who happens to be Tom’s mistress. At the end of the story, Gatsby dies, killed by the murdered woman’s husband, before he committed suicide. Later, Nick Carraway will find out that it was Daisy who killed the woman, but she will not be present to Gatsby’s funeral. When Nick tries to gather together people who could have known Jay, only three persons will show up: Jay’s father and the “owl-eyed” man Nick met at one of Gatsby’s parties in the library and Nick, seeing himself as Gatsby’s best friend. This shows clearly how Gatsby’s entertaining life was fake. He, who was looking for love, hiding behind a wall of craziness and parties finally got the counterpart to die alone, without the one he loved who totally ignored him.
In The Old Man and The Sea, after the long and trying struggle, Santiago finally get the upper hand of the big fish. Santiago comes back saddened by the loss of his dear fish. Indeed, what was the proof he was still able to catch fish, was devoured by sharks on Santiago’s way back to the shore and only let a skeleton. The weak old man, back from his epic arouse all the same the admiration of the fishermen and Manolin who was impatiently waiting for him, so happy to see him alive that when “he saw the old man was breathing” and when “he saw the old man’s hands [â€¦] he started to cry.”, written at the ninety fifth page. But for Santiago, the point is that everything is to do again, he is back at his point of departure with no fish to sell on the market, the one about he had thought “How many people will he feed ?” is now only a memory. But unlike Jay Gatsby in The great Gatsby, Santiago will not end alone because he will be sustained by Manolin who did not stand to wait that long to know if the old man was alive or not and who felt guilty to have let him go away alone. For Santiago, this struggle and this isolation have brought back his apprentice and maybe have permitted to show other fishermen his value letting behind his old reputation to be a good-for-nothing because of his old age.
In The Old Man and The Sea, written by Ernest Hemingway and The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the main characters have to cope with their loneliness. Even if their loneliness has taken different appearances : amusement, parties, fame and wealth for Jay Gatsby, and routine, fate and poverty for Santiago. The fact is that actually, the one who seemed to have everything to be happy does not have a better end that the one that everything led to sadness.
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About his book, Hemingway wrote that : “No good book has ever been written that has in it symbols arrived at beforehand and stuck in. … I tried to make a real old man, a real boy, a real sea and a real fish and real sharks. But if I made them good and true enough they would mean many things” as F. Scott Fitzgerald mentioned Gatsby as “somebody who had great potential that he never reached”. In these two books, loneliness could be seen more as an inside struggle, as the battle to have the courage to face the elements, that one hold all the winning cards or not.
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