The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

An old fisherman has been eighty-four days at sea without catching anything.    He is said to be unlucky, and the boy that was apprenticed to him has been assigned to another boat.  Still, on the eighty-fifth day, he rises, as always, before dawn, rows out into the open ocean, drops his precisely weighted lines, and waits.  The sun climbs high into the sky and he catches only bait.

Then, around noon, his line is taken by a great fish.  As the battle stretches over days and nights, it becomes clear that it will claim one of their lives, for the man must fight not just with the marlin, but with his fatigue, hunger, thirst, and his old body.

The Old Man and the Sea was a return to form for the aging Hemingway, and it won him the Nobel Prize.  The story is so simple that it can be taken as an allegory for many things: writing, the creative process, life’s struggles.  The picture presented is bleak but uplifting.

The old man, Santiago, is a hero, strong, focused and fearless, the personification of the author’s quasi-religious views on masculinity.  He is also simple and humble, in contrast to Hemingway’s earlier hard-drinking, hard-living protagonists.

A beautiful, small book that typifies the iceberg method, of something written truly being able to stand for many things.  Recommended.


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