The Old Man and the Sea - By Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea

By Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was born in Chicago in 1899 and was educated at public schools. He showed soon a noticeable talent for writing, and at the age of sixteen he became a junior reporter for a Kansas newspaper. His journalistic career was interrupted by the First World War, in which he served in France and Italy as an ambulance driver. After the War he stayed in Europe working as a correspondent for a Toronto newspaper. In Paris he met Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, who stimulated his dedication to literary work. It is in this period that his first novels were published. But since he was an adventurous and daring man, the offer of working as a foreign correspondent in Spain during the Civil War enticed him to return to his old profession and took him to the country which was to be so influential on his writing. Here and in Cuba he became devoted to bull-fighting, big-game hunting and deep-sea fishing- sports which are a recurrent theme in his subsequent short stories and novels. His many novels reflect love of nature and sports (hunting, boxing, bull fighting) and give evidence of his deep understanding of the human soul, include such famous works as The Sun Rises (1926), A Farewell to Arms (1929), and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). In addition he wrote several volumes of short stories and also a play. The Old Man and the Sea was published in 1952 and is regarded by many as the finest work Hemingway ever wrote. In 1954 Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature for the narrative art displayed in The Old Man and the Sea. Ernest Hemingway died in 1961.


The book is about an old man who fishes alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream. He has gone for 84 days without catching a fish. In the first 40 days a boy was with him, but because he was so unlucky the boy's parents forbade him to fish with the old man. It makes the boy sad to see the old man come in empty-handed each day because he has taught him to fish. On the 85th day, the old man also fishes alone. He rows far from the shore and the puts his baits out. After a time, a small tuna is caught. He rows on, and then a huge fish takes the bait. He knows it must be huge as he feels the unbelievable weight. So he cannot raise the fish, instead the boat begins to move to the north-west. No land is visible, but the man hopes he can come in on the glow from Havana. He "fights" with the fish as he has to keep the line taunt not to lose the fish. The man gets injured because the fish is much stronger and in comparison to the boat two feet longer. His left hand gets cramped and cut, and he is cut under the left eye because the fish once pulled downward quickly. Then a dolphin takes the other, shorter line which he kills and eats in order to stay strong. The old man begins to talk to the fish because he knows of his size that he must be old, sometimes he feels sorry for the fish, but his determination to kill him never relaxes. It gets darker, and the fish slows down. The old man fells asleep, but when the fish starts to jump he is woken by the movement of the line. He knows that the fish begins to circle now, the circles gradually becoming smaller and the fish rising. The man pulls in with all his might, but each time the fish rights himself and swims off again until he swims near to the boat where the man can drive his harpoon in. The old man feels faint and sick but continues his work. Because the fish is too big to haul into the skiff, the man has to lash him alongside, then he sets sails to south-west. But the scent of the dead fish continuously attracts sharks. Though the man manages to kill some of them, they all bite big parts from the fish. When the man finally arrives home, there is nothing left from the 18 feet long fish. The next day the boy comes into the old man's shack and tells him that they will fish again together after the man got well.


The book is about human courage and endurance - the old man catches all alone a huge fish, always thinking that man can be destroyed but not defeated.


Old man: He is old and wise, he knows well how to fish and therefore he finally catches the fish

The boy: he loves the Old man because he taught him how to fish - He is sort of father substitute for him. He would do anything for him.

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