Having recently digested In Our Time, I became acquainted with Nick Adams and Hemingway’s intimate knowledge of all things outdoors, most especially, all activities related to fishing. In The Old Man and the Sea, that knowledge is driven home as the gritty and gory descriptives unfold. How can a book about an old man fishing so enrapture? Read the damn book and you’ll see (although, not if you’re squeamish or a vegan).
The seemingly simple tale opens with an old Cuban fisherman whose luck has seemed to run out after 84 days without a catch. He is shunned by all, but a young boy who learned under his watch and seems to be the only person left with any faith in the old man.
The book’s protagonist, Santiago, is in awe of Joe DiMaggio, who he follows regularly and looks to for inspiration. His wife is dead and he lives a very meager existence. He reflects back on his life and recalls his younger days as a very strong and admired man. Using these thoughts, he sets out to sea to prove himself worthy and battles a great marlin further out than he’s ever been. This is one admirable man.
Manolin, the young apprentice to devoted to Santiago. He brings food and coffee to the old man and helps prepare him for his journey. His parents have forbidden him from joining the old man as they consider him very bad luck, but he still helps him in other ways. Not only does he learn hard skills, but values and characters of a man who Santiago passes down to him. This young man will carry on and set the example for the next generation.
This would definitely be a conversation held at sea. So evidently comfortable in open waters, I’m sure Mr. Hemingway would have many a seafaring tale to share. I’d pack the gear, stow the liquor, don my life vest and venture out with the hopes of returning to land with wisdom and a boatload of fish.
My rating for The Old Man and the Sea is a 10 out of 10.
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