Reading The Old Man and the Sea was therapeutic for me. While there waddled the story of an old man having a hard time at sea, I chose to retrace it by mapping it against our life. That’s exactly how it is like – life. It gives you a hard time, then skims over a silver lining, shows you a good time, scathes your body, tests you punitively and then when you think you have it within your grasp, it ends up slipping away.
While there are dozens of interpretation of The Old Man and the Sea out there, I couldn’t help but tack every bit from the book to a certain thing in our life. Like how the old man would never let go – an epitome of perseverance. And the sheer confidence that he had, and hope even though he had constantly failed at it but he never gave up. His madding talks always made sense. Ernest Hemingway made sure we read him like we would like to read a character and what he is going through. And surprisingly it was full of wonders.
There were dozens of beautiful lines strewn all across the book and I loved how they made me stop and think. I loved the comparisons he made treating sea as a female. Of considering the mighty fish as his friend because of the journey they were on together.
At the same time, it also made me a tad sad the way the old man chose to reason with the things he did. While he might have been right on his deed, I couldn’t help but feel for the poor fish and for all those lives that he chose to take. You see, a fisherman fails to see a fish as a life worthy of living. For a good chunk of the world it might not be a big deal, but for those who care about life in every form, for them it is huge. The book carries that theme all along, and was written in an era and for a mass that enjoys fishing, hunting and eating them. To such people, it would have related the most. Instead of aggrandizing an act like that I choose to take away the gist and apply things to real life.
The Ending of The Old Man and the Sea
The ending of The Old Man and the Sea makes you wonder about so many things. Even though the old man looked at his feat as defeat, there were two factions who thought otherwise. One of them being fishermen who marveled in awe when they saw the size of the carcass and revered old man for the same, the second one in the form of tourists (those who are not from the profession and hence see things differently) who considered it to be a shark. The latter part of the world are all those people you might have come across who would judge you without living your life, based on how little they know.
Also, as readers we know about the struggle the old man had to go through and we respect him for his perseverance. But the colossal importance of what the old man had tried to achieve and almost achieved would never be understood by that clique who simply choose to look at the end result. That’s also insinuated by how the tourists chose to believe what they wished to believe and the waiter who was trying to explain chose not to explain it further.
His story went in vain for the world. But it is good to find that the old man had a companion in the form of the boy who sat there looking at the old man sleep and wept for him. He knew exactly what he had went through as he registered it by seeing the old man’s hands.
You can’t help but notice how The Old Man called the fish his “friend” throughout the book, and when he was tired and defeated by the Sharks, all he could think about was land and his bed. It alludes at how as humans we only think of the task we are up for as long as we are succeeding at it. Any hint of failure then takes away the thrill from it, and we end up seeking respite in the one place we started at – Ground Zero.
There are countless other comparisons that the book forces you to make. Hemingway was a true genius and I just love reading his work. So glad that I bumped into it.
Check out my other book reviews as well.