He was asleep in a short time and he dreamed of Africa when he was a boy and the long golden beaches and the white beaches, so white they hurt your eyes, and the high capes and the great brown mountains….
He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy. He never dreamed about the boy.
Santiago is an old fisherman living in Cuba, making his living fishing for large fish. He has recently had an unlucky streak, 84 days without a fish, and now his young friend and apprentice isn’t even allowed to fish with him, and instead must fish with younger and more successful fishermen. The boy loves and admires the old man, and wants desperately to help him and to continue to learn from him. He brings the old man food every evening, and helps him bring in his mast, and they talk of fish and baseball.
Santiago vows that the 85th day will be a lucky one, and so he goes out further than any of the other fisherman, and he is successful in hooking a great marlin, a fish that he estimates to be about 1,500 pounds. This fish is strong, and the old man feels, noble. There is no way that the old man can kill the fish until it tires out, so he hangs on for two days and nights while the fish pulls his boat further and further away from home.
The story here is simple and improbable, full of allegory and symbolism. The language is lovely and rich. Santiago feels such a kinship with this marlin, the fish he has determined to kill, that he is almost sorry when he is finally successful. He struggles with the concepts of sin, and wonders if he has committed a grave sin by killing so great a fish, a fish that he had come to love.
I enjoyed The Old Man and the Sea a great deal. This was my first Hemingway, though either his last or one of his last books. I’ve heard that the writing and style is different than his other works, which makes me wonder if I would enjoy them as much. Any Hemingway fans out there?