Book Review: The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


My daughter read this book as part of her high school literature course, and she convinced me to read it too. The first time I picked it up, I got about a dozen pages into it and stopped. A year later, I picked it back up with the same result. It just didn’t grab me. But the third time was different. It took me three days to read it, but only because I had to put it down to do other things. This time the book had me hooked like a fish on the old man’s line.

There is something intriguing about Hemingway’s method of narration that kept me turning the pages. I was there, in the shack, on the pier, and in the boat. I could see the boy, the coffee, and the newspaper. I could hear the man talking to himself, the wind mourning, and the fish surfacing and splashing back down into the water. As a writer myself, I would love to emulate his style, for the story unfolded seamlessly. (It is literally seamless, as there are no chapter breaks.)

What is the point of this story? It doesn’t have a moral, per se, but it is strong in morality. The reader will find traits of humility, dignity, honor, loyalty, and faithfulness demonstrated throughout the book. Pain is unimportant and can even be forgotten for a while, when the need arises. Persistence has its reward, and it is good to honor a worthy opponent. Old men have much to teach, and young men have much to learn. They need each other. The old man was born to fish. This made me wonder, are we all born to a particular purpose? Am I fulfilling my purpose?

The story did not end at all as I had thought it would, but the ending Hemingway thought up left me with tears in my eyes and a sense of complete satisfaction.

Many others have also been inspired by Hemingway’s writing style. In fact, The Old Man and the Sea, his most popular work, was awarded the Pulitzer Price in 1953, and the following year Hemingway won the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his powerful, style-forming mastery of the art of narration.”

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Old Man and the Sea

  1. A classic man vs nature theme. But with an additional plot line of man vs himself. The Old Man fights nature to redeem his reputation as a fisherman, only to be seemingly defeated by nature again. His struggle, in the final twist, is his redemption. Great book. Short — which is nice for those among us with a, let’s say, limited attention span. 🙂 Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

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