Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea had been on my to-read list for ages now. A Pulitzer Prize winning story, this book was Hemingway’s last published full-length book while he was alive. Between it figuring on numerous must-read lists and languishing on my Kindle bookshelf, the curiosity as to why it was so highly recommended always ate me away from within. So I finally decided to pick it up a few weeks ago.
While the book is not exactly exciting, it is in every way something that boosts your morale. Santiago, a fisherman on the wane, has the same confidence he had when he was young. He believes that today, after a long dry spell, will be the day he snares the catch of his life. He sets out and catches a great marlin. But instead of him pulling the fish in, the marlin pulls him and his skiff out into the seas. Tired, Santiago pulls the fish in with all he has and thrusts a harpoon into it before securing it to the side of the skiff.
Now that the marlin is secured, he turns the skiff around and heads homeward. His strength and patience is tested when, thanks to the blood, sharks start circling the skiff and biting off chunks of the marlin’s flesh. Santiago rows on and on homeward, his strength draining. He returns, the marlin now reduced to bones, and flops on his bed, asleep. In the meanwhile, the villagers, who, before his departure laughed at him, are now in awe, believing the skeleton to be that of a shark. The old man, oblivious to all this, sinks into a sleep full of bright dreams.
The reason why The Old Man and the Sea resonates to the extent it does is because of how motivational it is without being preachy. In simple dialogue and expressions, Hemingway sends out a simple message to the reader: Do not give up. It might feel like nothing is coming out of it all, but the end is in sight. And it is as fruitful as your labors feel tough. At the end of it all, you will have the luxury of sitting back and relaxing for as long as your success allows you to. You will get a lot of rewards – you just have to notice and grab them; sharks in the guise of marlins.
The impact that The Old Man and the Sea has is so intense that its review preaches more than the book does. No wonder the book was recognized and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953, also gaining a mention when its author, Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature the following year. One of Hemingway’s best works, it remains unparalleled. And it doesn’t look like it is going to be matched any time soon!
Rating: 5/5 stars
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Picture Credit: beamingnotes.com!