Title: The Old Man and the Sea
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Publisher: Triad Grafton Books
The three-day fight between a lonely fisherman and an enormous marlin in the Gulf Stream is the story line of this novel, one of the most important literary narratives in the 20th century.
Santiago, a Cuban fisherman who fishes alone, has gone eighty-four days without taking a fish. Being a widower and having no children, Santiago is a solitary man – many of the other fishermen make fun of this unlucky man of cheerful and undefeated blue eyes, but he is never angry –, who found in Manolin his best friend. The old man taught the boy to fish. When the last one was only five years old, his parents let him go for the first time with the fisherman in a boat and the boy can remember everything from when they both first went together.
After that large period in the end of which the fisherman, having taken no fish, is considered “salao” – the worst form of unlucky –, his apprentice’s parents decide to change his master by sending the boy to another boat, a lucky and successful one.
The sadness he feels both by being forbidden from fishing with his old master and by seeing day after day how the man comes in with his skiff empty is showed in a way that expresses his deep sympathy and love for the old fisherman. The boy always goes down to help the old man carry the harpoon, the patched sail and the other poor instruments the thin and gaunt man brings with him. These scenes fill the first pages of the story with tender passages.
In the eighty-fifth day, pushed by his faith, his confidence, his hope and his strength Santiago goes far out to sea in his little wooden skiff prepared to come back to house with a fish, cost whatever it costs.
The deeply moving way he struggles with that immense fish, provided with a fan of feelings towards the marlin and the nature – passion, patience, honour, respect, politeness, humbleness, courage, simplicity, hopeful – helps the reader to get involved in the old man’s personal tragedy.
The story is written in a direct, passionate and simple style, which turns the book in an attractive reading. Hemingway’s lightweight descriptions of the fisherman and his relationship with the environment – the sea, the wind, the sun, the moon, the stars and the sea inhabitants – is full of poetry and invites the reader to share the feelings, the hopes and the fears of this great man Santiago is.
The Old Man and the Sea is a compelling tale on man’s struggle against fear, nature and himself. One of the most beautiful, riveting and deeply affecting books I’ve ever read.
By Helga Maria Saboia Bezerra