Response to: Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea...


No doubt, an amazing book from start to finish, especially the realizations made by the characters that relayed to the reader. The Old Man and The Sea, which is most certainly not the most attention grabbing book in the first 50 pages however, the interest of the story becomes greater as Hemingway’s words come into depth. Throughout the book Hemingway only makes use of 3 main characters, Santiago who is an old fisherman with salao or unlucky, the boy who is assumed by me to be 12 to 13 and finally the fish, a giant, noble and brother of the sea, a marlin.


When Hemingway writes, he writes with such description that I cannot even believe that such feelings for an object or idea existed at all. Such as the description of Santiago, “They were strange shoulders, still powerful although very old, and the neck was still strong too and the creases did not show so much when the old man was asleep and his head fallen forward. His shirt had been patched so many times that it was like the sail and the patches were faded to many different shades by the sun. The old man’s head was very old though and with his eyes closed, there was no life in his face. He was barefooted.” (Pgs 18-19) This passage alone describes an immense amount of imagination and contemplation that I dare not try to question it any further. I love the way he builds the exact image he wants you to perceive, leaving no room for assumption.


Hemingway’s stories flow with a rhythm that forces you to stop and consider the meaning and think deeper instead of just reading through the words and immersing yourself in the action of the book. A great example and an opinion of mine is the entire dialogue with the fish, “Then when he had seen the fish come out of the water and hang motionless in the sky before he fell, he was sure there was some great strangeness and he could not believe it. Then he could not see well, although now he saw as well as ever.” (Pgs. 98-99)


I believe that this dialogue and many, many others throughout the book represent our path of life and death. In the beginning, we catch the noble, worthwhile, awe inspiring fish. Our youth is filled with energy and life, hopes and dreams much like Santiago’s. Then in the middle of our life, we are determined to do the best for ourselves, even if it means dying nobly for a fish, just one big fish “Fish” he said softly, aloud, “I’ll stay with you until I’m dead”(Pg.52). Then the fish comes in, our big accomplishment arrived and yet we express regret for the time wasted and most of all, the life lost “I am only better than him through trickery and he meant me no harm” (Pg.99) and “I am sorry that I killed the fish”(Pg.103). As the sharks attack the fish and tear away at our life source or Santiago’s, in this case “He did not like to look at the fish anymore since he had been mutilated. When the fish had been hit, it was as though he himself were hit”(Pg.103) slowly we realize we will die and more regret, happiness and memories all pool together at once. Then when there is nothing left of the fish or you and you pull back into harbor all that really matters is the everlasting memories, feelings and lessons learned, that’s all you end up with in the end, the skeleton, and that’s what the fish is all about.


Conflict? Oh yeah we have conflict! Hemingway obviously puts all kinds of analogies and personifications in his work but one thing hidden deep within paragraphs are his ultimate conflicts with life. Santiago reflects these conflicts mostly in man vs. nature when he struggles with the fish; he is willing to DIE for the chance to bring it in and almost does. He catches the most noble of all the creatures of the sea, a giant marlin, and what does the sea and mother nature do, it reclaims it in the end