Sunday, June 12, 2005

"The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway

After 43 years, and some references to "The Old Man and the Sea", I decided it was time to read it. Hemingway is one of the authors you hear about all the time in literature class, even in Georgia high schools, but somehow I missed reading altogether. I tended to select the books of Vonegut and Arthur C. Clark(and perhaps that is why I watch shows from the Sci Fi Channel most of the time these days.

It would be interesting to know if Hemingway had outlined and knew how he wanted this tale to end prior to starting his writing. There were many opportunities where the ending could have veered into a different direction. For instance, Santiago (the Old Man) could have died at sea as did his fish. That would have not been a shock. It was lurking there as a possibility, at least within my mind, but Hemingway steered clear of the obvious and had Santiago continue to endure the struggles of his existence.

The one character trait Santiago had was perseverence in spite of the odds. It had been over 70 days since he had last caught a fish. Yet he continued to try. Once he hooked the fish, the fish was stronger than he imagined, and yet he did his best with what he had aboard to not lose his prize. He respected the fish, and knew that at any point he could lose it. Yet he was not deterred. At the same time he was working to capture the fish, he realized he must manage his resources so that he would be able to outlast the fish, lest all be lost.

After securing the fish to his boat, he knew he was in for a tough trip in. Yet he prepared himself for this with what he had on the skiff.

Soon the sharks attacked, and Santiago fought back as best he could. He knew the odds were against him, and at times regretted having taken the life of the big fish. Yet he understood the nature of the world. He was a fisherman,and that was a fish, and that is the way it is supposed to happen.