The Old Man and the Sea, 1952
Ernest Hemingway’s novel entitled: The Old Man And The Sea, received the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize award for fiction in literature in 1954, and was recognized by the Nobel Committee which bestowed on him the Nobel Prize for Literature as well.
In the same year Ernest Hemingway bequeathed his Nobel Prize gold medal in appreciation and gratitude to the revered Marian image of Our Lady of Charity.
This novel is considered as the final and most profound, most famous work ever written by the esteemed and prolific Ernest Hemingway. This novel gave him prominence and prestige status.
This is a compelling story of the interpretation of life.
This story takes place in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Florida, and it revolves around a stubborn but determined aging lonely fisherman named Santiago and his relentless pursuit of an enormous marlin and his struggles associated with the eventual capture
Santiago is saddened because he has not caught a fish in 84 days and has been ridiculed and tagged as an unlucky fisherman by his fellow fishermen. His young and devoted novice named Manolin was told by his parents not to associate with such a loser like Santiago, who is a shameful disgrace to the entire fishing community, but rather make friends with fishermen who bring in a good daily catch. Despite his parents’ request, Manolin continued to visit Santiago every night bringing with him his fishing gear hoping to accompany Santiago on his next fishing venture, also preparing meals and discussing American baseball.
Santiago considers Manolin as being a good colleague and friend not just an apprentice, and he confides in him that he will journey into the distant Gulf Stream in the Straits of Florida to fish once more and alone, confidently stating and believing that his ongoing pattern of bad fortune will remarkably turn around.
Subconsciously, and deep inside Santiago realized that he was attempting to primarily convince himself that this bad karma which was hanging over his head like a bad omen would disappear once he brought back a good catch, and he could ultimately face his fellow fishermen with pride, dignity and redeem his respect in their eyes.
On the 85th day, Santiago embarks in his skiff navigating towards the Gulf Stream concentrating on the vast horizon. By high noon on a blistering hot day, with the scorching sun beaming down on him he notices that a huge fish has taken his bait and his gut instinct tells him that it is probably a marlin.
Santiago is struggling and exerting all his strength to pull the huge marlin towards the skiff, instead the marlin is puling him, and Santiago has no control and no recourse except to hold on to the line tenaciously and with all his capability, not to lose the marlin.
This strenuous ordeal which seemed endless lasted for two days and a night. Santiago endured the pain from his hands which were literally raw and bleeding profusely from tugging on the fishing line for so long.
Becoming delirious from the intense smoldering sun perspiration and dehydration, he began to feel a sense of admiration, remorse and sympathy for his nemesis, even addressing him as brother numerous times, and deciding that because of the exhibition of the marlin’s great fight and will to survive that no man has the privilege of consuming him as food.
The marlin encircles the skiff on the third day, and Santiago being already exhausted and weak from battling with the marlin, somehow manages to gather his residual strength and stamina to pull the fish alongside the skiff and successfully harpoons it. He firmly ties down the marlin broadside of his skiff and starts his trip home.
Santiago is constantly contemplating about the market price for the marlin and just how many people in his village will be abundantly fed.
During his journey surrounding sharks sense the marlin’s blood and their next meal, so he harpoons a Mako shark but unfortunately can not retrieve his harpoon, so he improvises making another one by tying his knife around the tip of one of the oars and attempts to scare off an approaching school of sharks. He kills five of them and others escaped, however the returning sharks just kept circling the skiff, and by sunset the remaining sharks ripped apart the marlin to shreds. All that was left behind was the vertebrae, the tail and the head.
Santiago felt defeated and disillusioned, conceived the notion that now he definitely is stricken with bad luck, and expresses his heartfelt immense sorrow to the sharks telling them in an angry tone of voice how they are responsible for destroying his vivid , yet elusive dream.
He finally reached the shores of home just before dawn, and burdened with dragging the heavy mast upon his shoulder he staggered home, abandoning the carcass on the shore without looking back.
His unfortunate and unforgettable adventure has come to an end, and he falls on top of his bed and instantly drifts into the deepest stage of sleep.
The very next day curious fisherman assemble on the shore and witness the remains of the marlin, as one fisherman measured it to be 18 feet long.
Manolin came on the scene, and the fishermen asked him to inform Santiago just how badly they feel for him, and how sorry they all are about his conquered endeavor that unfortunately did not produce a positive outcome.
Manolin was worried about Santiago and rushed to his hut and exhaled a sigh of relief when he found Santiago asleep in bed. When he awoke they made a mutual pact to go fishing together real soon.
This novel The Old Man And The Sea has had three adaptations for the big screen, and has become mandatory reading material in High Schools, due to the American Literature curriculum.
This novel is dedicated to Charlie Scribner and to Max Perkins, who was Ernest Hemingway’s literary editor.
Hemingway’s Nobel prize gold medal was stolen in 1986 and recovered with the threat and intimidation of dictator Raul Castro.