Spoiler Alert: Plot Summary
The Old Man and the Sea is a tale of heroism, an epic battle, and the tender affection between a young boy and a very old man as they fish the seas of the Gulf Stream. The old man, Santiago, taught the young boy, Manolin, to fish, but when our story starts, Santiago has gone 84 days without catching a fish, so Manolin's parents had him switch to working with another (luckier) fisherman. As implied, the story tells the tale of the old man, and it chronicles his solitary journey to the brink of civilized waters. He snares a fantastic marlin and proceeds to use his long-honed skills and limitless patience to capture and kill the fish. In the end, the distance Santiago traveled to find the fish outdoes him, though, and the carcass of the fish, once worth a fortune and a glorious prize, is decimated by intermittent shark attacks on his return journey, rendering it useless. Santiago, exhausted from the ordeal, stumbles home to his tiny shack, where Manolin brings him coffee and watches him sleep as they make promises and plans to fish the wide seas together once more.
Spoiler Over: Continue Here
- Sleep apnea (I'd fall asleep waiting for the fish to succumb, and then Tra la! Off sneaks the fish!)
- Not a morning person (see above reason. At one point after Santiago's been out to sea for at least 2 or 3 hours, he happily glances at the horizon to watch the sun come up. Something's wrong with the order of waking up and sunrise, there, my friend!)
- Sunburn (for those that haven't seen me, my skin is paler than pale [if she can't find one smaller than small, then she can't go to the Butterfly Ball!] and I have been known to turn Red like Tomato)
- Don't like raw fish (even when they're part of sushi (I know, le sigh! I've tried!) and Santiago subsists on nothing else during his journey)
- Bore easily (as I get older, I find my attention span is shorter and shorter. It took me three days to finish this blog! I certainly don't think I could keep my attention on one fish for 36 hours.)
- Not good at fighting sharks (at least in Santiago's case, this seems to be a requirement. I don't feel confident in this area At All. Especially with limited equipment like half a broken oar. Maybe if I was Really angry, or if I had a killer harpoon or something. Although hunting any animal, even a vicious shark, doesn't really appeal to me.)
Even though they don't fish together when the book starts, the old man still comes to wake the young boy so they can prepare for the day. I loved the way the old man woke him up:
The old man went out the door and the boy came after him. He was sleepy and the old man put his arm across his shoulders and said, 'I am sorry.'" (this is the always the appropriate sentiment after waking me up, no matter what time of morning (or early afternoon) it is.)
- Hooking the unknown
- Stay at my house, by all means
"'Take a good rest, small bird. Then go in and take your chance like any man or bird or fish."
'Stay at my house if you like, bird. I am sorry I cannot hoist the sail and take you in with the small breeze that is rising. But I am with a friend.' (aka, the fish. in case you hadn't put that together. for a second, I was all, Oh, Another Bird? Where? And then I thought, DUH, Meredith, he means the fish.)
- Gallstones the size of Golf Balls!
The fish is two feet longer than the skiff, and the old man estimates it's more than a thousand pounds. I'm just going to let that sink in as you imagine a man, some rope, and essentially his bare hands, against a half ton fish.
- Equality of battle, sense of honor
I have mixed feelings about hunting and fishing (I understand the necessity/pleasure, but also feel like I would have a hard time doing it unless push really came to shove) and fishing in particular always seemed a little mean to me. I've never liked imagining someone walking up to me, sticking a metal hook in my jaw, and then yanking hard. But fish aren't people, and I know in many ways it's very different and perhaps more humane than sundry other ways of killing animals. And I still mostly like eating animals, so I just need to suck it up, I guess. But I liked that Hemingway (who I know full well was an avid hunter) recognized the honor of the battle, particularly between such a large and lovely fish and such a patient and venerable fisherman. Here's one of Santiago's musings during their battle:
- Nothing gold can stay
Passages I particularly liked:
- Scars on Santiago's body: "But none of these scars were fresh. There was as old as erosions in a fishless desert."
- "In the dark the old man could feel the morning coming."
- "The myriad flecks of the plankton were annulled now by the high sun and it was only the great deep prisms in the blue water that the old man saw now with his lines going straight down into the water that was a mile deep."
- Santiago, on the fish: "His choice had been to stay in the deep dark water far out beyond all snares and traps and treacheries. My choice was to go there to find him beyond all people. Beyond all people in the world."
- "Then the fish came alive, with his death in him, and rose high out of the water showing all his great length and width and all his power and his beauty." I wish I could see this fish. Not just another marlin like the one described, but really see Santiago and the fish high in the air.
- "I am glad we do not have to try to kill the stars."
"They were sailing together lashed side by side and the old man thought, let the fish bring me in it if pleases him. I am only better than him through trickery and he meant me no harm."
It reminded me of the line in Ender's Game from the Queen of the Buggers, after Ender has successfully (and unwittingly) destroyed their race:
"We did not mean to murder, and when we understood, we never came again."
I have a bit of a confession to make to all you Devoted readers out there. I know, Gasp! I accidentally already read Fight Club after I finished The Old Man and the Sea, even though The Bell Jar was supposed to be next. I had bought the next few books in advance, and in my head I thought Fight Club came next. (It's supposed to come After The Bell Jar. I took it OUT of the Tulku...) I'll still blog in order (DOn't Fret! I know you were Worried about That!) but just wanted to be honest with my lovely blog enthusiasts. Off I scamper to The Maraca Tin. Join me if you will!