January 12, 2008

Review: The Old Man and the Sea


The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

127 pages

First Sentence:

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone
eighty-four days now without taking a fish.

This is the fairly mellow tale of an old fisherman who is trying to do what he was born to do: fish. Without a catch in 84 days, he is now being called "salao, which is the worst form of unlucky." But as he sets off on his 85th day, he is determined that it will be a lucky day. He is sure he will be catching a large fish this time.

This book moves at a leisurely pace in a stream-of-conscienceness way. The old man, being alone, thinks to himself and occasionally talks to himself too. The reader witnesses the old man's mental struggles with loving his fish while he also knows he must kill it. The agonies he goes through to catch the fish and then to protect it for the long trip home feel real.

It is about dreams fulfilled but at a cost. It is about a man's struggle with adversity. I am afraid that the simplicity of the story is hiding a much larger picture than I was able to grasp. It didn't win the Pulitzer Prise in 1953 because of its plot alone. It has a genuine quality about it. You believe this is the story of a real fisherman in the Gulf Stream. Largely uneducated, simple, loves fishing and the sea, content with his lot in life. I think the best description for it is pleasantly simple.

Reading The Old Man and the Sea counts toward the Book Awards Challenge and the Seafaring Challenge.

4 comments:

Eva said...

I read this for school in seventh grade. I really enjoyed the story, but then in class we analysed it to death. :(

Petunia said...

I think I would enjoy a bit of analysis. "Bit" being the key word.

Trish said...

Not my favorite Hemingway. Have you ever tried his short stories?

Amazingly Fit!!! said...

I'm doing a paper on it for English class and I'm using one of the quotes in this post. Plus, you have a similar thesis for The Old Man and the Sea as my friend. She had a thesis that Santiago was satisfied and entertained by his own simple thoughts, so he was pleasantly simple.