While I didn’t like Hemingway’s short stories when I read them, I did enjoy Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. While it has an element of sadness, there is also a beauty and majesty around its short plot.
The old man of the title is reaching the end of his usefulness in life. He’s a fisherman off the coast of Cuba, and he has had a series of bad luck, most recently going 84 days without catching a fish. He is lonely (his deceased wife’s portrait makes him sad, so he hides it), he is poor (he has very little food), and he is sad. The old man’s only friend is a boy who once fished with him. Now the boy fishes with a different man; the boy’s parents believe the old man is not good enough.
But both the old man (and the boy) do believe he is good. The old man knows his strengths. In the sunset years of his life, he recalls days in his youth when he saw lions dancing on the beach in Africa.
He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy. (page 25)
I love the lions: I think the old man is strong like those lions.
The old man, alone, goes fishing for the eight-fifth day, hoping to change his luck. And there, in the midst of the Caribbean, he meets the battle of his life with a giant marlin.
Can a lone man catching a fish be a novella, let alone an interesting one? Yes, I think so.
I have a hard time writing a review of a book that many people have read, and I find it a challenge to discuss on this novella without divulging important aspects.
Let me just say this: it is beautiful. An old man still has faith in himself, and he is fighting against all odds for that strength he believes he has. In the end, that is what this novella is about: the internal strength of the individual.
I think it is beautiful.
What strength do we all have inside of us?
The old man’s struggle reminded me of my struggle when my son was born. “Ten more minutes of this before I die!” I said to myself again and again during the labor. Of course, once ten minutes had passed, I was able to take ten more minutes. And when my son was finally born (after a relatively short time), I knew that I was stronger than I ever imagined I could be.
I have a used Bookmooch copy of The Old Man and the Sea, and I considered giving it away. I’m sorry, but I’m keeping it, for I know that I will want to read this again and again at various points in my life.
I highly recommend reading The Old Man and the Sea: I felt it was highly relevant to each of us in our daily struggles.
Have you read The Old Man and the Sea? Did you like it? Why or why not? I never read it for school: did reading it for school “ruin” it for you?
If you have reviewed The Old Man and the Sea on your website, please leave a link in the comments and I’ll add it here.