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The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (8/10)

The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is a story about resilience and bravery in the face of adversary. For eighty-four days, Santiago, an old fisherman, has went out to sea to fish and returned empty-handed. He appears to be so unlucky that the parents of his young apprentice, Manolin, forced the boy to stop fishing with him and join a more prosperous boat. The old man promises that his luck will turn around. On the next day, the eighty-fifth day, he makes good on his promise when he expertly hooks a gargantuan marlin, but it can not be pulled in and it starts to swim away. He can not tie the line to the boat so he squares it up against his shoulder and the old man bears the strain of the line with his shoulders, back, and hands for four days.

Santiago wrestles with his own thoughts as he fights the Marlin. At the beginning of his struggle, Santiago is weak and tired, but he feels empathy and admiration for the fish. He questions why he fishes and kills the fish that he calls his brothers. He both pities the fish, but has an undying determination to kill it. The nature of this exchange is inevitable. Just as Hawks will hunt warblers, men will hunt marlin and sharks will steal their catch. The harsh mentality behind his order is upset, however, when Santiago feels respect and kinship for his catch. He sees the marlin as a worthy opponent, he even goes on to say it doesn’t matter who kills whom. Santiago sees the marlin as his earthly brother and decides that to win glory, one does not need to pull down the moon or catch the stars; they find glory in a well-placed contest against their earthly brothers.

The Old Man and the Sea is a deceivingly short book that is actually incredibly complex with its masterful use of metaphors and analogies. Hemingway is known for a simple writing style that hints at a deeper meaning to his words. Much like the iceberg effect where ice above sea level hints to a large mass underneath the waves, Hemingway’s works have seemingly simple stories, but are truly literary masterpieces when put under inspection.

It is a bit of a short book and takes very little time to read, but I would still recommend it or any other of Hemingway’s works. This is a book for anyone who appreciates metaphors and analogies or the microanalysis of books. I gave this book an 8/10 because of length.


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