Book Review: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1952)

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The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

“He was full of resolution but he had little hope.”

And often, like a seductive oasis, this little hope beguiles the heart to endure battles of gargantuan magnitude, letting seep every second the realization of the effort turning as much futile as it may be fruitful.

Fisherman Santiago lives in a barren land, bearing just a few hope saplings, which he patiently waits to bear fruit. He is frugal and easily happy, but his simpleton living has not tamed his aspirations, lofty by his standards. He wants to catch a BIG fish, something so commanding and magnificent that it can seal his tenacity and authority, among his community, his friends and above all, his doubting self. After living a number of listless days, not worthy to find a mention in his memories, he finally wakes up to a dawn that might change his fortune and the colour of his being. Risking his identity and more significantly, his friendship with the young, zealous Manolin, he summons his steely resolve and sets into the sea. Nothing is on his mind but for catching his prize. The sea is rough, the fishes are shrewd, the boat is ruddy, the food is scanty; Santiago is old, he is sturdy, he is alone, he is human. What entails, then, is an engaging battle, the best kinds, one that is fought with demons outside and demons within, at the same time.

I found the little conversations Santiago holds with himself, very amusing since I felt all of us keep doing it, all the time. I felt a certain nobleness of his heart when he felt for the hunted like he was a part his brethren. I even felt he might have let him go had he failed to kill him. His goodness of heart redeemed his sin. And that goodness brought him back home even after his entire world had changed dark after three days of merciless raging in the sea.

When Manolin brings him, his hot drink on the next morning and he sips it with a wisdom of a man destroyed but not dead, I know that Santiago will look forward to another dawn and he will be better prepared to take on his destiny.

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