Year of Publication


Season of Publication


Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of English

First Advisor

Dr. Betsy Nies

Second Advisor

Dr. Christopher Gabbard

Department Chair

Dr. Keith Cartwright

College Dean

Dr. George Rainbolt


With his suicide in 1961, Ernest Hemingway seemingly cemented into place his legacy as the classic image of the able-bodied, masculine man; he was, to many, the anti-disability writer, the author who lived for ability, lost ability, and took his life once he realized no chance of regaining his ability existed. Such a narrative, however, ignores the truly complicated and dynamic shape his understanding of the body took. Through an analysis of The Old Man and the Sea, I examine the form this ideology of ability took at the end of his life when, like the novella’s protagonist, Santiago, his failing health forced him to focus on the realities of the inevitable failure of his own body. Through the application of research such as David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder’s theory of narrative prosthesis, Tobin Siebers’ work on the ideology of ability, and Andrew Farah’s research on Hemingway’s declining physical condition, I demonstrate the ways The Old Man and the Sea legitimizes the disabled body, avoiding, in the process, several common narrative tropes such as the overcoming narrative or the kill-or-cure dichotomy and creating a space in which the inevitable decay of the human body must be seriously and honestly addressed. Through this research, a new more nuanced picture of Hemingway emerges, one that recognizes the complicated and dynamic nature his view of the able-bodied individual took.