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on September 21, 2006
Believed by many to have been written at the time of Hemingway's innermost struggles, this story provided proof that Hemingway could indeed write a classic after so many years. The Old Man And The Sea tells the story of an aging Cuban fisherman who has gone over eighty days without catching one fish. This string of bad luck comes after having made a career out of fishing in the Gulf Stream. Resisting those who offered help, the old man sets out to sea and indeed catches a giant Marlin. But the story does not stop there. Despite having hooked the Marlin, the old man remains in his boat trying to hold on to the fishing line and his mortality, while the Marlin perseveres in its attempt to escape death. While holding on and writhing in pain, the old man learns more about himself than he ever had before. His spirituality and empathy for others reaches an apex, and his graciousness in defeat reveals the identity of his character. The Old Man And The Sea is a story of revival and hope, followed by reality and defeat. This novel stands out as incredibly well written, a common characteristic of Hemingway novels and short stories. Despite being a short read, this short story leaves the reader with much more to ponder. The Old Man And the Sea is an excellent selection for anyone who can read between the lines. It proves itself as a classic that cannot be ignored. Also recommended: -----katzenjammer -----by Jackson McCrae, totally different but fun like Heller or Sedaris's works.
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on August 3, 2005
Santiago is an old man. He was once a great fisherman, but no longer. The other fishermen ridicule him, or ignore him. Eighty days without a fish, and the parents of the small boy who helps him, Manolin, have forbidden him to work with Santiago any more. He is unlucky, they say, and the word is echoed around town.
But the old fisherman does not mind. He knows that life is difficult, that not everything goes the way you wish it would. On the eighty-fifth day, he sets out into the water, alone, and hooks a great fish. 'Never have I had such a strong fish nor one who acted so strangely', he muses to himself, early on in the battle. For it is a battle. The fish he has caught is strong, has great endurance, and a cunning that Santiago admires.
As time passes, he starts to talk to himself more and more. He muses on the strength of the fish, and how they are brothers. He desperately wants to catch it, so that he can return to Havana with some glory and enough money to sit and listen to the 'great DiMaggio' on the radio, in peace. But he also admires the fish, and gradually, he becomes unsure as to whether he has made the right decision in trying so hard to kill it.
'Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who.'
Santiago is an old man, a man who has accepted his weaknesses and failures, but who also knows his strengths. He has a great confidence in his own abilities, but it is a weary, hesitant confidence that is difficult to explain. On the one hand, he knows that he has the capability to capture the fish. He has caught large fish before, and, thanks to the raw fish he has been eating, considers that he has the strength to keep going, for ever if necessary. But he protests and cajoles and pleads at his individual body parts to work, for them not to fail. 'Hold up, legs. Last for me, head. Last for me. You never went.' He knows he can do it, but, because of his age and the majesty of his 'brother', he is worried that maybe this time, this fish will be the one that got away.
Hemingway's writing is sparse and effective. Sentences are short, sharp, and have very little in the way of flowery words or fancy punctuation. The writing suits the story very well, because Santiago is an up and down man himself. What you see is what you get, both in the characters, the setting, and the writing. There is also the interesting effect where, due to the simplicity of the writing and the sparse selection of characters, the story can be interpreted on many levels. On one, it is the story of man struggling and fighting for something that, once achieved, we cannot hold on to. On the other, it is the sadness and inevitability of age. Or the insignificance of the single man in today's group-action world. Or many other interpretations.
The ending is sad, beautiful and completely appropriate. Could the novel have ended any other way? Yes, but I argue that if it had, then the message, the electricity, the purpose that Hemingway had been building for the previous 90 pages, this would have been lost with the easy, happy solution. Instead, we have man's failure in success, and Santiago's calm acceptance, and it is inspiring. Pick up a copy of this thoughtful, beautifully written novel. Another book I need to recommend -- completely unrelated to Hemingway, but very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition," a somewhat raw, but oddly engaging little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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This is some of the best descriptive writing I've seen. Each description is vivid and paints a definite picture - Santiago's face, hands, walk, skin, clothes, movements - it's all part of the perfect example of brevity in writing. Pulizter, Nobel, both prizes of the ultimate in distinguished writing are certainly not wasted here.

The old man is hard-working, unlucky, and determined. He has been battered by nature, the people around him, and his life's profession, but he continues, he forges through and fights the great fight. With his greatest catch ever, he battles for days and succeeds only to be beaten in the end, or is it some type of triumph, but only in the heart.

Everyone should read this short, yet poignant story of Man vs. Nature!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon February 18, 2015
This is some of the best descriptive writing I've seen. Each description is vivid and paints a definite picture - Santiago's face, hands, walk, skin, clothes, movements - it's all part of the perfect example of brevity in writing. Pulizter, Nobel, both prizes of the ultimate in distinguished writing are certainly not wasted here.

The old man is hard-working, unlucky, and determined. He has been battered by nature, the people around him, and his life's profession, but he continues, he forges through and fights the great fight. With his greatest catch ever, he battles for days and succeeds only to be beaten in the end, or is it some type of triumph, but only in the heart.

Everyone should read this short, yet poignant story of Man vs. Nature!
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on August 26, 2015
This is a short story of an old fisherman who has been for some time short on luck, but now hooks a huge fish which, if he lands it, will compensate for all his losses and humiliations. Then it is a fight to retain and kill this massive fish which drags his small boat way out into the ocean. In his obsession with catching the fish, the fish becomes a personality with whom he has "conversations". He finally kills the fish, but then is faced with the reality that he cannot haul this fish aboard. He ties it alongside the hull of his tiny boat, and then commences the long journey home. On the way his fish attracts sharks. By the time he reaches port near Havana his fish has been eaten by the sharks, and is now merely a skeleton. The old fisherman has lost the commercial value of his fish, but the skeleton is there to prove his capabilities, particularly in the eyes of a young boy who is the only one in the community who has always believed in his fishing prowess. This story is written with great economy, but holds your attention to the end.
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on August 14, 2015
A fine little book and a prize winning novel, in simple prose. Hemingway’s pared down style did not prevent me from picturing the setting and natural beauty he described. The story symbolizes the struggle to survive in life. To be lucky or the winner is paramount to the old man. The arm wrestling scene epitomizes this view. That life is hard, a struggle, and you have to compete to win. Frequent references to baseball clue the reader to this theme.

The struggle with the fish, a 1500 pound Marlin sail fish, literally becomes the struggle for life. The Old Man and the fish are attached by the fishing line and hook, a umbilical cord, and through both can feel the other. The fish even jumps out of the water to see who is there. Both know that one has to die. The Old Man has reason and tools to his advantage but he is physically weak. The fish has brute force. Suspense builds as this Darwinian struggle unfolds.

The Old Man wins but has a bitter sweet victory. He brings in the skeleton of the fish, sort of like a trophy, that is worthless at the fish market. Read it for the entertainment, for literature, and if you’re a fisherman you can pick up a couple of tips.
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on June 26, 2005
Santiago is an old man. He was once a great fisherman, but no longer. The other fishermen ridicule him, or ignore him. Eighty days without a fish, and the parents of the small boy who helps him, Manolin, have forbidden him to work with Santiago any more. He is unlucky, they say, and the word is echoed around town.
But the old fisherman does not mind. He knows that life is difficult, that not everything goes the way you wish it would. On the eighty-fifth day, he sets out into the water, alone, and hooks a great fish. 'Never have I had such a strong fish nor one who acted so strangely', he muses to himself, early on in the battle. For it is a battle. The fish he has caught is strong, has great endurance, and a cunning that Santiago admires.
As time passes, he starts to talk to himself more and more. He muses on the strength of the fish, and how they are brothers. He desperately wants to catch it, so that he can return to Havana with some glory and enough money to sit and listen to the 'great DiMaggio' on the radio, in peace. But he also admires the fish, and gradually, he becomes unsure as to whether he has made the right decision in trying so hard to kill it.
'Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who.'
Santiago is an old man, a man who has accepted his weaknesses and failures, but who also knows his strengths. He has a great confidence in his own abilities, but it is a weary, hesitant confidence that is difficult to explain. On the one hand, he knows that he has the capability to capture the fish. He has caught large fish before, and, thanks to the raw fish he has been eating, considers that he has the strength to keep going, for ever if necessary. But he protests and cajoles and pleads at his individual body parts to work, for them not to fail. 'Hold up, legs. Last for me, head. Last for me. You never went.' He knows he can do it, but, because of his age and the majesty of his 'brother', he is worried that maybe this time, this fish will be the one that got away.
Hemingway's writing is sparse and effective. Sentences are short, sharp, and have very little in the way of flowery words or fancy punctuation. The writing suits the story very well, because Santiago is an up and down man himself. What you see is what you get, both in the characters, the setting, and the writing. There is also the interesting effect where, due to the simplicity of the writing and the sparse selection of characters, the story can be interpreted on many levels. On one, it is the story of man struggling and fighting for something that, once achieved, we cannot hold on to. On the other, it is the sadness and inevitability of age. Or the insignificance of the single man in today's group-action world. Or many other interpretations.
The ending is sad, beautiful and completely appropriate. Could the novel have ended any other way? Yes, but I argue that if it had, then the message, the electricity, the purpose that Hemingway had been building for the previous 90 pages, this would have been lost with the easy, happy solution. Instead, we have man's failure in success, and Santiago's calm acceptance, and it is inspiring. Pick up a copy of this thoughtful, beautifully written novel. Another book I need to recommend -- completely unrelated to Hemingway, but very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition," a somewhat raw, but oddly engaging little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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on April 10, 2005
I normally stick with a current bestseller, such as "Life of Pi" or Jackson McCrae's "Children's Corner," but instead wanted to do some scholarly reading and picked "Old Man" instead. There is no mistaking the vast religious symbols in " The Old Man and the Sea". First the book starts out with a fisherman teaching a boy basic values and good behavior. Then Santiago (the "old man") goes out and upon catching the fish slashes his hands, symbolizing the nails Jesus encountered, the cuts on his back that symbolized the whipping Jesus endured, and the horrible headache that hit the heat struck old man during the fight, that symbolized the crown of thorns that Jesus was forced to wear during the crucifiction. Also at the very end of the book, when he gets back home, he ends up carrying the mast of his vessel up to his hut on his shoulder and falling several times to rest. Nothing more than that summerization can give a better paralization of Christ carrying the cross on his horrid journey and falling three times. Even though Hemingway would never admit to any of this as religious symbolism, anybody can easily see the many examples of it.
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on May 20, 2004
I gave this book, The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemmingway, four stars because I thought it was a pretty good book for us to read in school. At first I thought it might have been boring because it is all about one man and 3 days of his life trying to catch a fish, but it was very intense and exciting mostly the whole book. Hemmingway did an excellent job making a fishing trip exciting. His writing was extremely detailed throughout the whole book which made it very easy to read. He shows this when he is describing the old man in the beginning of the book and says "The old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck. The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea where on his cheeks" (9-10).

Not only was the description very detailed, the characters were developed very well. I really liked how there was only two main characters in this book because that is all he needed to get the message across to his readers. He shows how developed the characters are when the boy, Manolin, say to Santiago "You must get well fast for there is much that I can learn and you can teach me everything" (126). This shows what the boy's relationship with the old man is like; they are close and really respect each other. He also showed the character development of Santiago when he says "I can do it as long as he can...", the he he is talking about is the marlin shark that he is trying to reel in (53). He is showing how devoted he really is to what he does for a living and how he feels about life in general.
Originally I thought that the plot was going to be kind-of boring because it was just about one fishing trip over three days but it ended up being very exciting. I really enjoyed this book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wanted to read a well written, exciting, short book.
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on May 20, 2004
I gave the book The Old Man and the Sea four stars. I gave it four stars because though I enjoyed the book, I found it boring at times and sometimes hard to follow. Although the book was sometimes boring it had great detail that made you feel as though you were right there with the old man trying to pull in the huge marlin fish. In using such vivid description he put you into the story feeling the sorrow the same sorrow for the old man that the boy felt.
I suppose I found the book boring at times because I sometimes felt as though I was reading about things that had no relevance to the story. Which in turn also made it hard to follow and I would get confused. But, I kept reading because the determination of the man to catch a fish kept my interest to see if he really would get that big one he was waiting for. Hemmingway makes you become emotionally invested in the story. "No one should be alone in their old age....But it is unavoidable" (pg. 48) When the old man says this you feel bad for him and you hope never to become that way.
The old man possess much determination he shows this by never giving up. "Fish...I'll stay with you until I am dead." (pg.52) The old man says this during his chase of the big marlin. When he says this you can hear the determination in his voice and you know he will get this fish or die.
I would recommend this book for others because although there were some parts that were boring are hard to follow it was a good book and I thought it had a great lesson behind it. Never give up. I think this lesson is proved when Hemmingway writes " But man is not made for defeat... a man can be destroyed but not defeated" (pg. 103).
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