Monday, May 25, 2015

Classic Reads: The Old Man and the Sea Shines With Classic Man/Beast Symbolism

The Old Man and the Sea is where Ernest Hemingway's work begins and ends. Straightforward sentences and words easy enough for a child to understand, but the themes are deep.

The ocean is not just a money pit of fish to catch for Santiago. He looks at it with love and respect, for all its creatures. This is a battle between man and nature and Santiago understands that his chances are not good.

Eighty-four days have passed since Santiago has caught a fish. Despite the ridicule this brings from many younger fisherman, Manolin, a young boy, enjoys talking to him about American baseball. Santiago also tells Manolin about his days as a boy sailing to Africa and seeing lions on the beaches.

One day a huge marlin pulls Santiago's boat far out to sea. After it slashes his face with the fishing line and leaps out of the ocean, Santiago is stunned to see that it's the biggest fish he has ever laid eyes upon.

He becomes resigned to his eventual death and his thoughts return to baseball, lions, and Manolin. He wonders if the Yankees' DiMaggio would stay with the fish as long as he had. He thinks about the arm-wrestling match he engaged in over 24 hours as a young man and won.

On the third day, he harpoons the marlin perfectly and it dies. But he knows his problems are far from over, as he is still a long way from home, with the marlin's blood sure to attract sharks.

This is my 22nd favorite novel of all time.

***** out of ***** stars


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