The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The last novel Ernest Hemingway saw published, The Old Man and the Sea has proved itself to be one of the enduring works of American fiction. It is the story of an old Cuban fisherman and his supreme ordeal: a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Using the simple, powerful language of a fable, Hemingway takes the timeless themes of courage in the face of defeat and personal triumph won from loss and transforms them into a magnificent twentieth-century classic.


Confession...I have not read many books by Ernest Hemingway. I have always meant to, but for some reason I have never gotten around to it. This makes me feel slightly guilty. I mean, how can I be a true bookworm without having read anything by one of my country’s greatest writers? So, as I embarked on my reading challenges for the year, I vowed that I would add more Hemingway to my to-read list. The Old Man and the Sea is my first Hemingway novel. The story is simple. It’s about an old man chasing down a fish. The old man is a tragic character. He’s down on his luck, poor, and in desperate need of a break. His luck appears to change when he hooks a large fish. The fish does not give up easy and the majority of the book is about the man’s struggle to catch the fish.

The old man is certainly a symbol of pride and perseverance, although they seem to work against him in this story. Yes, the man shows perseverance throughout the story, but it is quite obvious from the beginning that his efforts to catch the fish will not lead to success. He doesn’t have the strength nor the help to successfully capture such a large fish. However, the promise of such a large payoff is too good to resist. It is his pride that keeps him from releasing the fish and moving on. Even after he catches the fish and the sharks are attacking, his pride refuses to let him cut his loses, and as they say, “Pride comes before the fall.” In the end, he winds up with nothing. Even though it was obvious from the beginning that things would not work out the way he wanted, I still felt sympathy for him.

Ultimately, I thought the novel was okay. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either.

2015 Reading Challenge: A Pulitzer-Prize winning book

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