Compare and Contrast Essay

Mike McGuire
10-5-98
Block 4 Soph
Mr. Coco

Over the years, it has been getting harder to find books with their own identity because so many of them start to blend together and look like each other. Good books will maybe have some resemblance, but definitely have their own personality. Two such stories are the novel, The Old Man and the Sea, and the short story, “Limits of the Envelope.” These two stories are similar, but not the same. Both stories have some comparable characteristics; however, they both have their own identity because they also differentiate in many ways.
One way The Old Man and the Sea contrasts with “Limits of the Envelope,” has to do with how the two men struggled against nature. In the former, the old man is fighting a fish, and in the latter, Chuck Yeager is battling his airplane and the atmosphere. While the old man is in combat with an animal, Chuck Yeager is going against inanimate objects. Yeager can only use his brain and ingenuity, while, Santiago may only use muscles and will to fight the will of an animal. These are two very different ways of fighting, with one’s wits, and by strength.
Then, of course, there are also some parallels in the two works of literature. One such example is the fact that both of the men in the stories are afraid. Chuck Yeager, in “Limits of the Envelope,” is afraid of dying. He is up in thousands of feet above the earth, and is falling rapidly in an airplane. In The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago is afraid of losing his mind and his fish. He was afraid that if he fell asleep during his four-day struggle, he would lose his fish, and if he stayed awake, he would lose his mind. Although these two stories may differ, they are also alike in the aspect that both main characters are afraid.
The two characters in The Old Man and the Sea, and “Limits of the Envelope,” contrast each other because while Chuck Yeager is having his exploit in the air, the old man is having an adventure on the ocean. Although this may seem like a small difference, they are two completely different worlds. In the air, a person has nothing to support oneself, and all you can do without an airplane, is fall. Whereas on the ocean, one is stationary, unless one chooses to move or are acted upon by an outside force. A man can be out on the ocean for days, as Santiago was, Yeager, on the other hand, could not stay in the air for very long.
Santiago and Chuck Yeager are also comparable because they both received wounds from their adventures. Chuck Yeager was injured first when the chair fell on top of him, causing the jet propulsion fluid to seep into his airtight suit, dissolve the seals, and then light on fire, burning his face. This meant he couldn’t get any air and had to try to get oxygen by breaking his mask and by putting his hand through his face shield he scorched his finger. In The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago obtained his injuries when the fish jerked his line, which caused him to cut his hands on the rope as it went careening from the skiff.
In the end, both yarns differed and related due to many different facts. From the different conditions, to both being injured, from the different enemies, to both being afraid, these two books are a great read.