View Poll Results: Old Man and the Sea: Final Verdict

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  • * A bookworm's nightmare!

    0 0%
  • ** Take a nap instead!

    0 0%
  • *** Finished but no reason to skip meals.

    1 11.11%
  • **** Don't forget to unplug the phone for this one!

    4 44.44%
  • ***** A bookworm's bibliophilic dream!

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Thread: Thoughts on the Old Man and the Sea -- Part One

  1. #1
    Registered User beroq's Avatar
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    Mar 2009

    Thoughts on the Old Man and the Sea -- Part One

    Santiago is an old man who seemingly once was lucky but over time lost his luck as well as his wife about who he does not think much and whose picture he "took down because it made him too lonely to see..." (p16) But he still keeps her relics, a color picture of Jesus and another of the Virgin of Cobre. Loneliness is what the old man is most vulnerable to and he is lonely in his dreams, as well as in real life. Yet, to this loneliness, he responds bravely and good naturedly. He kills the fish and then makes friends with them.

    He is a very old but a strong man fishing alone because, people, as well as his luck, begins to desert him. "84 days without taking a fish" (p9) makes people think that he is now under the worst kind of unluckiness. Santiago strongly believes that he will catch a big one on the 85th day. Why does he think so? This is something like a revelation or a strong intuition that he has gained in the course of events.

    Perhaps he was in the same state of mind in the past 84 days and never lost hope. Perhaps he hopes through action, not simply thorugh wishful inertia. He is lonely but he is not an ascetic at all. Because his spirit, as the circumstances will prove later, is absolutely indomitable. And because he is almost a giant in his physcial and spiritual power.

    The Old Man's complexion is the map of his life. 'A thin, gaunt man" with deep 'signs' in the back of his neck which stood for his hard labour as a fisherman. (p9) But, Hemingway emphasises that none of his scars are new. Still, we are shown the life-injecting nature of the scars seen on the Old Man's hands, neck and face. The paradox that Hemingway creates here is such: When he was lucky and able to catch fish, he had fresh scars. Scars of luck, of hard work and prosperity that witnessed that he existed. In the author's defiant philosophy, you are man in proportion to the signs of what you are doing right now. The Old Man now lacked fresh scars outside but full of scars inside, the scars of an ill-fate, a salao. But he lacks new scars, that is, he has not really existed for the past 84 days.

    In page 10, we are told how his eyes still kept their power, liveliness and joy. As if they were the safe havens where all the human emotions of the Old Man came together. Clearly, Hemingway sees strength in this man's eyes now. (p13) And only in his eyes. His eyes are what lead his old body; when his eyes die, we might guess, his body will die, as well.

    Santiago is united, spiritually and physcially, with the sea. He thinks of nature as a brother who looks like himself and with whom he might fight some times. His relation with nature never varies. In his world, there is a sense of brotherhood with the nature; the killer and the one who is being killed are united on a higher level where they don't hate each other. This is a universe of possibilities that surpasses moral concerns. A man can easily be friends with the fish he is trying to kill.

    The boy, Manolin, in the meantime, is always protective. (p.19-27) Because in the author's world everyone has a fixed role to play. Santiago's role is to catch the fish that will make up the lost 84 days. Manolin's role here is to protect him during this period, providing him with food, taking care of his clothes and helping him with his preparation for his big catch. This is a continuous world. Santiago is an old man but he, in some way, teaches the boy how to fish, preparing him to pick up where he leaves off. This way, Hemingway creates an immortal man with no child of his own, but still, his teachings runs in the boy's veins like blood.

    Santiago overcomes some of the most vital exigences when, "for a long time eating had bored him and he never carried a lunch." We see The Old Man becoming a spiritual being with his feet still set on the world firmly. Even his dreams go through a transformation and "he no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurances, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach." (p25)

    He dreams of Africa. A distant place. He is almost purified from all the mundane pleasures of life except for a land where the lions are still available. This is the dream of a man getting ready to die. A man in pursuit of a distant place where he could exist forever.
    ars sine scienta nihil

  2. #2
    Haribol Acharya blazeofglory's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Hemingway is a great artist no doubt. I like more than others of his stories the old man and the sea. Particularly his presentation or description of the sea and the way a fisherman struggling against the forces of nature.

    Of course what we call civilization symbolizes man's victory over nature.

    “Those who seek to satisfy the mind of man by hampering it with ceremonies and music and affecting charity and devotion have lost their original nature””

    “If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.

  3. #3
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Nov 2005
    New York
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    Though sometimes there is the Hemingway over sentiment, the story is a masterpiece and beautifully written. I highly recommend it.
    Last edited by Virgil; 10-26-2009 at 07:00 PM.

    "Love follows knowledge." – St. Catherine of Siena

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  4. #4
    somewhere else Helga's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    on the ice in the middle of the sea
    Blog Entries
    my favourite of his work. Hemingway was brilliant and this book so great, I read somewhere that he got the idea for it from a picture in a paper of an old fisherman... but I don't know, and it doesn't matter it's good no matter how he thought of it...
    I hope death is joyful, and I hope I'll never return -Frida Khalo

    If I seem insensitive to what you are going through, understand it's the way I am- Mr. Spock

    Personally, I think that the unique and supreme delight lies in the certainty of doing 'evil'–and men and women know from birth that all pleasure lies in evil. - Baudelaire

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