9. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway.
History: Written in Cuba in 1951 and published in 1952. It won the Pullitzer Prize in 1953. It was the last major work of fiction to be produced by Hemingway and published in his lifetime. The book is a novella because it has no chapters or parts and is slightly longer than a short story. Santiago (which is the Spanish for 'Saint James') represents Christ suffering. His stoic determination is mythic, nearly Christ-like.
Plot: An older fisherman takes out a small boat alone, and catches the biggest fish he’s ever seen. Unable to pull in the great marlin, Santiago instead finds the fish pulling his skiff. Two days and two nights pass in this manner, during which the old man bears the tension of the line with his body. Santiago expresses a compassionate appreciation for his adversary, often referring to him as a brother. On the third day of the ordeal, the fish begins to circle the skiff, Santiago, uses all the strength he has left in him to stab the marlin with a harpoon, thereby ending the long battle. Santiago straps the marlin to his skiff and heads home, thinking about the high price the fish will bring him at the market and how many people he will feed. While Santiago continues his journey back to the shore, sharks are attracted to the trail of blood left by the marlin in the water. By night, the sharks have almost devoured the marlin's entire carcass, leaving a skeleton. The old man castigates himself for sacrificing the marlin. Finally reaching the shore before dawn on the next day, he struggles on the way to his shack. Once home, he slumps onto his bed and enters a very deep sleep. The next day a group of fishermen measure the skeleton to be eighteen feet from nose to tail. They mistakenly take it for a shark. When the old man wakes, the boy and the old man promise to fish together once again. Upon his return to sleep, Santiago dreams of lions on the African beach.
Review: A short book, and my introduction to Hemingway. I did not expect to like it as much as I did, because the story is so simple, but sweet in a way that I didn’t anticipate. I knew, by the way Hemingway wrote, that the old man was going to beat the fish, but wasn’t prepared for the shark attack.
Opening Line: “He was an old man who had fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”
Closing Line: “The old man was dreaming about the lions.”
Quotes:"Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated."
"You are killing me, fish, the old man thought. But you have a right to. Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who."
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