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A review of the old man and the sea

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The Old Man and the Sea

Interested in participating in the Publishing Partner Program? It was a highly popular novellapublished first in Life magazine on September 1, 1952, to much acclaim, and the story helped revive interest in his work in general. Ernest Hemingway right with Joe Russell raising a glassan unidentified young man, and a marlin, Havana Harbor, 1932. Kennedy Presidential Library The story, in sum, concerns an old Cuban fisherman named Santiago who has not caught a fish for 84 days.

Even the family of his apprentice Manolin has encouraged the boy to leave the old fisherman, though Manolin continues to support him with food and bait. Santiago is mentor to the boy, who cherishes the old man and the life lessons he can impart. Convinced that his luck must change, Santiago takes his skiff far out into the Gulf Streamwhere the water is very deep, and hooks a giant marlin. He finally reels the fish in and lashes it to his boat, but his exhausting effort then goes for naught— sharks eat the tethered fish before he can return to the harbour.

Within the circumscribed frame of the novella are many of the themes that preoccupied Hemingway as a writer and as a man. The routines of life in a Cuban fishing village are evoked in the opening pages with a characteristic economy of language.

  • And finally he caught the fish and lashed it to the side of his skiff only to spend his return voyage fighting off sharks;
  • He specialized in robust action pictures, particularly westerns;
  • Within the sharp restrictions imposed by the very nature of his story Mr.

Hemingway was famously fascinated with ideas of men proving their worth by facing and overcoming the challenges of nature. When the old man hooks a marlin longer than his boat, he is tested to the limits as he works the line with bleeding hands in an effort to bring it close enough to harpoon. Through his struggle he demonstrates the ability of the human spirit to endure hardship and suffering in order to win.

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It is also his deep love and knowledge of the sea, in her impassive cruelty and beneficence, that allows him to prevail. The essential physicality of the story—the smells of tar and salt and fish blood, the cramp and nausea and blind exhaustion of the old man, the terrifying death spasms of the great fish—is set against the ethereal qualities of dazzling light and water, isolation, and the swelling motion of the sea. It is a story that demands to be read in a single sitting.