Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Old Man and The Sea

Okay, this was actually meant to be a Monday post. But we had some weather and traffic issues down here, so I was kept pretty busy yesterday.

Some techincal info/disclaimers:

Please understand that for the sake of this blog, some information is revealed that depicts the plot of the book under discussion. However, it is nothing like actually reading the book itself and is not enough to pass a test or write an essay! Also, throughout this series, there will be religious and sometimes sexual themes discussed. Everything will be PG unless specifically stated at the beginning of a post. Now, without further ado, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway!

Book Summary:
The book takes place in a small Cuban fishing village. The main character, Santiago is an impoverished old man believed to be cursed with bad luck because he has not caught a fish in 84 days. A village boy, Manolin, is forbidden from helping Santiago in his old age due to this unluckiness. So on the 85th day, Santiago sails out to try and catch a fish. A prime marlin catches his eye, and Santiago sets out to catch him. It takes 3 days for him to finally catch the marlin, and he suffers greatly for his prize. Thus, he sets sail home, only to be beset by sharks that rip his prize to pieces.

Review: This recieves 4 out of 5 stars from me. I loved this book for its simple, yet tasteful writing as well as its thorough detail. Hemingway describes his characters and his setting so well that you can taste the salt of the ocean and feel the coastal breeze. The story is a true man vs. nature plot and it truly shows that man must survive against all odds, or he is not a man. (This was Hemingway's thinking, represented by Hemingway's Code Hero.)

What to Look for:
This novella is a perfect example of Hemingway's typical writing. He uses very simple words, yet they fit the meaning and point perfectly. Also, the plot is practically a direct parallel to Jesus' journey as depicted in the Christian bible.

Impress Your Teacher: The novella sets Santiago up as Jesus, with Manolin as his disciple. (Santi means "saint" in Spanish) Also notice the eighty-___ days he went without catching a fish. These can be matched with Jesus's time in the desert where he went without food or water. While he was battling the marlin, the injuries Santiago suffered are stigmata (representations of Christ's injuries). He also spent 3 days fighting the Marlin (Jesus rose 3 days after his death). Other details can also be compared- pay attention to the end, when Santiago reaches his port. Hey, you didn't think I'd tell you everything did ya?

Cool Author Stuff: Hemingway was a very neat, and very crazy guy. He basically lived the life of his heroes. (See link above) He was a veteran of WWI, serving in the American Red Cross Ambulance Corps as a driver because his vision wasn't good enough to be a soldier. He loved to hunt, and traveled the world to do so. Hemingway collected six- and seven-toed cats. His Key West house is still used as a shelter for his own pets' descendants! Also, he was a very depressed man. Suicide ran in his family, and he eventually killed himself as well. That's all the really weird stuff. For more, see Wikipedia.
Oh, and Spain hated him! When he wrote The Sun Also Rises he romanticized the bullfighting festival in Pompolona (that race you always hear about). After his book was published, the festival became flooded with drunk young men and other tourists eager to try their luck. Needless to say, the deathtoll rose significantly and the "not-so-smart" non-Spainish people at the festival irritate the Spaniards of Pompolona no end. Hmm.

This concludes this entry in the summer series. Come back next Monday- yes, I mean Monday this time- to learn about Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck!


  1. I want a summary