BOOK: The Old Man And The Sea

AUTHOR: Ernest Hemingway

GENRE: Literary Fiction/Classic

ISBN 10: 0684801221

ISBN-13: 978-0684801223


PUBLISHER: Charles Scribner’s Sons


A thin old man goes fishing for eighty four days but catches no fish. Every day when going to fish , he is accompanied by a young boy, who had learnt how to fish from him. The old man’s name is Santiago, and the young boy’s name is Manolin.

For the first forty days, Santiago and Manolin had been fishing together, but on the 41st day, Manolin’s parents forbade him from fishing with the old man. “The man is a salao, the worst form of unlucky”, the parents said. The young boy then went to fish with another fisherman. Despite the parents not wanting Manolin to associate with the old man, he still wished he could go fishing with him. Manolin was fond of Santiago, and their friendship was great.

The young boy often helped Santiago, and on this day they worked together as they talked of American baseball, with legends like DiMaggio, (Whom he held in high regard. On the 86th day of fishing, Santiago wishes to have the confidence of DiMaggio, who did everything perfectly even with a bone spur in his heel.) Dick Sisler, John McGraw and a bit about Africa. The boy was interested in baseball more than Africa at that moment. After they had had their supper, they both went to sleep. Santiago rolled his trousers up to make a pillow, putting the newspaper inside them. He rolled himself in the blanket and slept on the other old newspapers that covered the springs of the bed. This brings about a theme of poverty. The Cuban fisherman could not afford a decent bed, and to have a pillow, he had to improvise a few things. He led a poor life. He dreamed about Africa in his sleep. In his dream he saw the white and golden beaches, high capes and brown mountains.

The following morning, the old man went fishing. After rowing for hours, a huge marlin gets trapped by his hook. After about an hour, a shark tears up the marlin. The smell of the injured marlin attracted other sharks and they came to attack. The sharks destroyed the skiff. He struggled to keep the sharks away. He punched one and the blow hurt his hands and shoulder.  They must have taken a quarter of him and of the best meat. after the struggle with the shark, the old fisherman seems to pity the marlin. He converses with it, regretting his action of hooking it.He wished it was a dream. “I’m sorry about it, fish. It makes everything wrong.” he says after the struggle. Santiago too is injured as the lines cut into his palms.

The old fisherman then sails back to the shore with the skeleton of the fish. When the locals see the skeleton, they are impressed. It was 18 feet long. He leaves the skeleton by the boat and carries the mast of the boat back to his house where he fell asleep. He dreamed about lions, the same dream he had had before he set off to sail.

Santiago is seen as someone who likes monologues. Several times in the book, he converses with self, giving himself hope, making decisions and giving counsel to self. This could be a habit he formed as a result of staying alone. Santiago didn’t have a wife, and the only companion he always had was Manolin when he came visiting or when they went fishing.

The book has a few characters. The main are:

  • Santiago the fisherman. He is the protagonist in the book.
  • Manolin – A great pal of Santiago. A young boy who is both loyal and obedient.
  • Marlin -The fish which kept him (Santiago) company for hours as he fought with the sharks and in the process got wounded.
  • Joe DiMaggio -I can’t say he is a main character but he can’t be ignored. On several occasions, Santiago mentions DiMaggio positively. The reader can tell that the baseball player was an idol in Santiago’s life. The fisherman admires DiMaggio and wishes to be like him in many ways.
  • Manolin’s parents – Like every parent, they love their child and wish the best for him. They even stopped him from fishing with Santiago as they felt like he brought bad luck, something they never wanted to see near their child.
  • Martin – The generous man who gave Manolin food and beer so they could go share with Santiago.

What I Loved About Santiago

  • He never harbored fury in him, even in the most difficult times. When he never caught fish, some fishermen made fun of him. this however, never made him angry or annoyed.
  • His friendly nature. This can be seen with how he converses with the young boy, who is a dear friend of him, and other locals.
  • His consistency and optimism. On the85th day, he again, like other days, set out to go fishing, even though lady luck was not on his side. When fishing, he thought, “… Only I have no luck anymore. But who knows? Maybe today. Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready…” I love how hopeful he was.
  • He was knowledgeable in his craft. With the old age, Santiago knew quite a lot about fishing trick and types of fish. He was a pundit.

This is an amazing book. Every character is symbolic in different ways. Santiago’s story is reviving. Though he led a lonely and simple life, there is so much to be admired in him. A fantastic quick read.