The Old Man and the Sea
published by Grafton Books 1976
first published by Jonathan Cape Ltd 1952
The book has more than one theme. The principal theme is the struggle between a man and a gigantic fish which symbolizes humanity trying to achieve the impossible. Or you can explain the book by saying that the theme of the story is the relation between man and nature. Nature is symbolized by the marlin. First the old man wants only to catch and kill the fish, for he hasn't caught a fish for a very long time. Then he begins to admire it for its strength and intelligence. Finally he comes to love it and feels sorry he has to kill it. The old man wins his first fight with nature by catching the big fish but is later defeated by nature in the form of sharks who eat the big fish after the man tied it up behind the boat. Yet the story doesn't end on a sad note, because the old man has won the respect of other fishermen and the determination of the boy to fish with him again. The friendship between the boy and the old man is also very important in this story. Often does the old man think of the boy when he is at sea, then he says to himself:
"I wish the boy was here."
Two events are very important for the story. Number one is that the old man, named Santiago, catches a very big fish. Because that's what the book is all about. Number two is that the sharks eat the man's catch, which symbolizes that nature is stronger than man after all. (page 52)"He is two feet longer than the skiff," the old man said. The line was going out fast but steadily and the fish was not panicked. The old man was trying with both hands to keep the line just inside of breaking strength. He knew that if he could not slow the fish with a steady pressure the fish could take out all the line and break it.
This passage is representative for the book, because it represents the struggle which is the principal subject.
The main part of the story takes place in the Gulf Stream., where the old man always fishes and in the village where the man lives ( It's not told where the village is but it's nearby the Gulf Stream). The fisherman is very poor, he is always bare footed and has a little house.He isn't educated by a school, but by life. The story is fiction. The principal characters are Santiago: An poor, old fisherman, who the parents of the boy don't find lucky. He used to fish together with the boy. He often thinks of the boy while he's fishing. Because he often says: "I wish the boy was here" (page 6)'But remember how you went eighty-seven days without fish and then we caught big ones every day for three weeks.' 'I know you did not leave me because you doubted.''It was papa mede me leave. I am a boy and I must obey him.' Manolin: A young boy, who helps Santiago carrying his gear and he gets the old man food. He used to fish with the old man, but his parents have forbidden this.He loved the old many very much.
(page 105) He was asleep when the boy looked in the door in the morning. It was blowing so hard that the drifting boats would not be going out and the boy had slept late and then come to the old man's shack as he had come each morning. The boy saw the the old man was breathing and then he saw that the old man's hand ( which was very injured by the fish who pulled the line all the time that cut the man's hand up) and he started to cry. Santiago is also the hero; he fights the big fish and catches him, but then the sharks eat his catch. Yet the people on shore admire him, when they see the skeleton of the fish. I like Santiago he's a hard worker and honest. The climax of the book is when the old man hooks up the marlin , until he comes back ashore.
It's a novel. It's one continuous whole.There is a storyteller, who sees everything, hears everything and knows what the man is thinking. The long descriptions are important for the plot. The author has used short sentences. But it's very well written. For example when Hemmingways describes the fish (page 52) He came out unendingly and water poured from its sides. He was bright in the sun and his head and back were dark purple and in the sun the stripes on his sides showed wide and a light lavender. His sword was as long as a baseball bat ( the old man liked baseball) and tapered like a rapier and he rose his full length from the water and then re-entered it, smoothly like a diver and the old man saw the great scythe-blade of his tail go under and the line commenced to race out.
The dominating factor of the book is the description of the events.
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born in 1899. His father was a doctor and he was the second of six children. Their home was Oak Park, a Chicago suburb. Hemming way was passionately involved with bullfighting, big game hunting and deep-sea fishing, and his writing reflects this. He visited Spain during the Civil War and described his experiences in the bestseller, For whom the bell tolls. Recognition of his position in contemporary literature came in 1954 when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for the Old man and the Sea. Other books of Hemingway are; A farewell to arms, The Torrents of Spring, Fiesta, Men without Women and so on.
I like this book because there is a good story in it, and it's well written. I found it hard sometimes to understand the long descriptions and the feelings and dreams of the old man. I would like to quote Anthony Burgess :
'As an example of simple "declarative" prose it is unsurpassed in Hemingsway's oeuvre. Every word tells and here is not a word too many.
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