The Old Man and the Sea | Book Review: A Perfect Escapism Novella For Quarantine

Synopsis (with Spoilers)

Before Santiago goes into the ocean to fish, we read about his dynamic with a kid that lives in the neighborhood, the old man’s apprentice. Their dynamic seems very father-and-son like. They spend time together, they support each other, and the old man takes care of him by cooking him, and putting him to sleep.

Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated. 

On Santiago’s eight day of not catching any fish in the shallow waters of the iland, he decides to row beyond the island and into the Gulf Stream. Santiago is a seasoned fisherman, so he knows what he’s doing. Also, he’s got lots of pride to make him believe that he can do it on his own.

What got my attention at the beginning of this venture, was the mention of turtles! 

The iridescent bubbles were beautiful. But they were the falsest thing in the sea and the old man loved to see the big sea turtles eating them. 

There are also moments when Santiago eats to make himself stronger. He drank a cup of shark liver oil and egg whites. I didn’t even know shark liver was a real thing, but turns out there are supplement vitamins on amazon that are for consumers. 

Most fishermen hated the taste. But it was no worse than getting up at the hours that they rose and it was very good against all colds and grippes and it was good for the eyes. 

Almost suddenly after Santiago goes into the Gulf Stream, he catches a marlin. A huge 8-feet, the largest fish Santiago has ever caught. The old man is able to hook the fish, but he cannot pull it in. Instead, the marlin pulls his boat. 

But perhaps he has been hooked many times before and he knows that this is how he should make his fight. 

Santiago decides to roll with it, and that’s when you see the pride in Santiago believing that he’s the strongest fisherman alive. You know, just typical male arrogance. 

“Fish,” he said softly, aloud, “I’ll stay with you until I am dead.”

“I told the boy I was a strange old man,” he sad. “Now I must prove it.”

The fish swims the boat day, and night. Santiago, he is tired, sleep deprived, hungry, physically hurt from burns caused by the thread of the fish pole, 

Then once Santiago is close to the marlin, he kills it with a harpoon thrust into the heart. This causes a huge trail of blood into the water and attracts sharks. Santiago then manages to kill it with the harpoon, loosing it in battle. Then more sharks come and Santiago stabs them with his knives, while being vulnerable as he’s slowly loosing items to defend himself from the sharks. After a while, I lost count how many sharks there were in this story, but there was too many to count, he makes it into the island with the marlin already eaten. Santiago believed that he was worthy of eating it. Also, he had to stay alive on his journey back home.

Then next morning, a crowd of fishermen are amazed around the skeleton of the fish. Santiago is praised, the old man returns to sleep his usual dream. The end. 

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 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. He simply woke, looked out the open door at the moon and unrolled his trousers and put them on.

Fan Art (with Spoilers)

What I liked about the book:

Hemingway’s ability to bring the humanity of the animals. Although some of the sea animals were killed for the ability for Santiago to live on, Hemingway still brought the humanity element of these sea animals. 

Most people are heartless about turtles because a turtle’s heart will beat for hours after he has been cut up and butchered. 

He was very found of flying fish as they were his principal friends on the ocean. He was sorry for he birds, especially the  small delicate dark tens that were always flying and looking and almost never finding, and he thought, the birds have a harder life than we do expect for the robber birds and the heavy strong ones. 

You are killing me, fish, the old man thought. But you have a right to. Never have i seen a grater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who. 

What I didn’t like about the book:

How tough Santiago believes he is. I understand that he is a seasoned fisherman, but when you are alone, deep in the ocean, there must be some fear. In the story, Santiago’s pride is what makes him believe he is a great fisherman. But in my opinion, Santiago was lucky. 

What will you do now if they come in the night? What can you do?
“Fight them,” he said. “I’ll fight them until I die. 

You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and loved him after. If you love him, is it not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?

What could of made the book better:

If the kid that was introduced in the first part of the book, was brought along for the ride. Maybe he sneaked in the boat when Santiago wasn’t looking? 

The dynamic between the two was very interesting and I would of loved to read more about them together. 

Other Favorite quotes:

The punishment of hunger, and that he is against something that he does not comprehend, is everything.

It’s silly not to hope. It’s a sin he thought.

If the others heard me talking out loud they would think that I am crazy. But since I am not, I do not care.

Will I read more books by this author?

Yes! I’m glad I read this short book as a way to be introduced into his larger body of work. Also, his books are often on lists of books that every human being should read. I’ll be the judge of that. 

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