The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

One for the ages, ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ by Ernest Hemingway, is a masterpiece. This was Hemingway’s last published novel and also his most appreciated. Credited with changing the tone and style of American prose to a considerable extent, this critically acclaimed novel is a staple feature in American Literature classes.

Santiago, the protagonist, is an old fisher-man who has seen eighty four days go by without catching a single fish. People start to remark on his unlucky streak and his sole apprentice, a young boy, ends up having to leave him on his parents’ compulsion. On the fateful eighty-fifth day, as the old man sets out to sea, determined and confident, he winds up in a battle with a large marlin. What happens next? Does he finally find the elusive luck he was hoping to?

At a meagre 37 pages, this novella gives you a sense of completion. Clipped, direct prose and beautiful descriptions make this book a delight to read. Hemingway’s exemplary writing makes you live the journey with the old man. The portrayal of the strength of the protagonist, whose perseverance even in old age knows no bounds, is truly heart-breaking.

The religious references in the book are very hard to miss. The major characters in the novel are likened to figures in the ‘New Testament’ and the symbolic line- ‘ ‘Ay,′ he said aloud. There is no translation for this word and perhaps it is just a noise such as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood.’ – is a direct reference to the crucifixion of Christ. An enjoyable read that takes you through the sights and smells of the sea and leaves you in a contemplating mood.

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