I recently reread Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. It’s a great story and a fairly quick read really. Only 120 pages, I managed to stretch it out over an entire week last week this time, but I’ve read it in an afternoon before too.
As I’m sure most of you know, it’s about an old fisherman who hasn’t caught a fish in forever. A boy who fishes with is not going on this trip to sea, but he loves the old man and helps him out every way he knows how. Really sweet relationship.
So the old man goes out once more, hoping this will be the day he breaks his streak of wretched luck and catches a truly great fish. I’ll spare you the details in case you haven’t read it; if you haven’t, you should march down to your nearest Barnes & Noble, get a copy, and read it.
Once again, I finished it thinking about the title. It isn’t called, “The Old Man and the Boy,” or “The Old Man and the Fish,” or something else like that. It’s called, “The Old Man and the Sea.” What makes the sea the character that Hemingway is laying side-by-side with the old man? That intrigues me. I’m sure there’s a fairly simple and straightforward answer than I learned briefly in 10th grade English. But it’s more fun to mull over it now for a while than to Google the 10th grade English answer. Besides, the 10th grade English answer might be wrong, and then where would I be?
It’s a great story and wonderful storytelling on Hemingway’s part. Beautiful, simple, straightforward prose throughout.
Best of all, it’s a book I’ll reread every few years, enjoying and puzzling over it afresh. Maybe in a couple of years, I’ll have a better idea of why it’s the old man and the sea.
3 thoughts on “(re)reading: the old man and the sea, by ernest hemingway”
It is a great book, and if I am remembering correctly, I think it finally earned Hemingway the Nobel Prize he had always deserved.
For my part, I would put “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Sun Also Rises” up there with the best works of American fiction. Tremendous stories.
I think you’re right about it’s contribution to his winning the Nobel Prize. I also think the novella itself won a Pulitzer.
i see in the book a sort of allegory on the stations of the cross. how about it?