The Old Man and the Sea

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Type: Fiction, novel

Published: 1952

I read it: January 2013 (re-read)

old man and the sea

This is a handy one to try the decade experiment on, because you can read it in a day. Especially when winter is at its heaviest and you don’t feel like a few (or many, many) hours in front of the page are hard to carve out. And this book really should be read in as short a time frame as possible; it is effortless to join Santiago’s adventure from the start, and everyone knows the meditative quality the story wraps around your mind. I enjoyed keeping an eye out for the Christ-figure imagery hammered into us in high school, and tried to look for a few new things. The story is as simple or complex as you want it to be, which is its great strength.

Santiago finds an archenemy, but after the fish’s death it becomes his ally against the baser sharks. He thinks of the fish, “I am only better than him through trickery and he meant me no harm.” There is quite a bit of honor and respect for his craft, an angle of hunting which may seem outdatedly romantic, but so be it. I imagine males react differently to this book than females. In any paternalistic culture, a man feels a deep need to justify his actions and find a sole, resounding meaning to an endeavor, something that lifts him (almost) to the level of the hero-men in his mind. This decade, here are the lines that hooked me:

“I’ll kill him though,” he said. “In all his greatness and his glory.”
Although it is unjust, he thought. But I will show him what a man can do and what a man endures.

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