The Old Man and the Sea Study Guide

The Old Man and the Sea Study Guide

Original title:
The Old Man and the Sea
1996 by Scribner (first published September 1st 1952)
ISBN 0684830493 (ISBN13: 9780684830490)

While “The Old Man and the Sea” closes Ernest Hemingway writing career, it also opens his talents from other perspectives and was one of the reasons for him being awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature. 

To put it in a nutshell, this short novel is about an old Cuban fisherman. Santiago didn’t have luck with fishing for many days. After eighty-four days of failure, he finally catches a marlin. The man killed the enormous fish, tied him up to the boat and took off in the direction of the shore. While the man was making his way, the sharks ate all the meat off the marlin and he was left with nothing but the bones. 

Obviously, the logic behind Santiago’s action is hard to understand. Why not cut the best parts of meat and put them in a boat? But that’s where the essence of the story as a literary creation begins. 

“The Old Man and the Sea” is a story about life and death, it’s about loneliness, it’s about despair, it’s about great efforts that don’t always result in progress, it’s about letting go. All of the sudden the readers realize that it’s not all about the fish. It’s about the fruitless fight, and it’s about the life that went by so quickly. 

Typical for Hemingway loneliness and solitude exaggerates in a middle of the sea. The old man has a follower in the face of a young boy, yet he is so lonely in his soul. Maybe it has always been there, it grew together with the man and nourished itself with the emotions of life to become even biggest at the dawn of his existence. 

The story is short, which makes it an easy read. But it also reveals the great talents of an author who had to invest so many meanings into such a tiny amount of text. That’s why the plot is secondary to the perception of this Hemingway’s creation. 

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