The Old Man and the Sea – by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea
By Ernest Hemingway

I really enjoyed the Old Man and the Sea. It was a super quick read and I finished it in about 2 days. I’m a pretty slow reader so that is saying a lot.

The whole book is one great adventure that lasts 5 days. The adventure is an illustration of a great man and of life. The old man is strong, brave, humble, noble and has a good heart.

The book begins with the old man coming in from a day of fishing and he hasn’t caught a fish in 84 days. His best friend and mentee, “the boy”, comes to help him. We understand from their conversation that the boy’s father will not allow the boy to fish with the old man anymore because the old man has bad luck. The boy’s father forces the boy to fish with another man who catches fish every day.

The boy obviously loves the old man. He takes care of him after his day of fishing by buying him a beer, getting him dinner, helping him put away his sail, mast, and fishing lines, putting a blanket around the old man while he sleeps, etc. The old man loves baseball and constantly talks about the great Dimaggio.

The next day, day 85 without a fish, the old man goes out very far. He knows that the trade wind will change at the end of the day and bring him back. He fishes all day without much luck but then, he catches a great fish. The fish is calm and strong and pulls the boat all night. The next day, he continues to pull the boat. The old man is incredibly strong and determined and holds the line for the second day at sea.

At night, he gets tired. He tries to rest and sleep but does not. The old man talks to the sea, the fish, the birds, to himself, and realizes that it is impossible to be alone while at sea. The old man knows the fish is great, bigger than any he has ever seen. He feels a brotherly love to the fish and loves the fish also. Finally, on the morning of the 3rd day at sea, the fish begins to fight. He and the old man fight all day before the old man finally kills it by pushing a harpoon into his heart. He ties the marlin to the boat and heads for home.

On the way home, the marlin is attacked by sharks over and over again. The old man fights them off one by one and kills many of them. However, eventually, the sharks eat the entire marlin and nothing is left but the fish’s skeleton. The old man is upset and says he should not have killed the fish. He killed the great fish for nothing. There is a parallelism between the old man and the fish. It is night time by the time the old man arrives at the beach. He cleans up and leaves him boat at the shore. He is so very tired.

He makes it to his shack and falls asleep. In the morning the boy comes to see him and begins to cry at the sight of the old man. After 3 days at sea fighting the fish, the old man looks bad. His hands are cut and bloody as well as his face and back. The boy cries and goes to get him coffee and stays with the old man until he awakes. The boy tells the old man he will fish with him from now on. He doesn’t care what his father will say because he still has much to learn from the old man.

Great quotes:

“First you borrow. Then you beg.”

“Why do old men wake so early? Is it to have one longer day?”

“If others heard me talking out loud they would think that I am crazy,” he said aloud. “But since I am not crazy, I do not care.”

“The dark water of the true gulf is the greatest healer that there is.”