Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Old Man and The Sea

Year published – 1952
Genre – Novel/Novella
My Rating – 10/10

Review by Dhvani Joshi

            This canonical work of Ernest Hemingway that barely runs into a 100 pages is at the pivot of modern American literature. Generally referred to as a 'novella', this work of Hemingway is that oeuvre d'art that won him the Pulitzer Prize as well as the Nobel prize.
            A tale of tryst with destiny, this short read is written in simple language that is colloquial yet direct. In spite of the simplicity of the prose, one can dive straight into the deepest recesses of the protagonist's mind. Widely recognized as a parable of struggle between man and nature put simply, this novel is a story of an old man, a young boy and a giant fish.
            Set in the Gulf Stream, it is a story that moves steadily with a simple plot. An old fisherman has gone 84 days without having caught a single fish. The young boy who has been his apprentice loves and respects him but dare not go with him anymore for the fear of his father. On the 85th day the old man sets out into 'la mar' (the sea). He hooks a giant marlin onto his fishing line that tows his boat further into the sea. After having gone 2 days and 2 nights after the fish, the old man is reluctant to let it go.
            The famished old man puts up a courageous fight against the power of the giant fish (man against nature) and manages to haul him.  The mutilated dead marlin that he catches is then hunted by the prowling sharks and all that remains of the marlin is it's skeleton.
The old man is still not defeated.  Hemingway's best lines, " A man can be destroyed, but not defeated" at this point convey immensely what it really means to be alive.
            The character of the old man is etched quite interestingly. He is a man of great mental endurance, yet at times, seems to give in to fate. He loves the fish but realises that still he must kill the fish or the fish will kill him. This is a story of grief and the beauty. What you choose to see determines your end, whether you choose to see the grief or the beauty of life that the grief brings with it.
A must read.

About the Reviewer

Dhvani Joshi is a doctoral student who loves being in the classroom whether teaching or being taught!  When she is not studying or teaching, she is in her kitchen experimenting! Dhvani blogs about her cooking adventures at Crumpled Chillies. Dhvani will forever be inspired by a beautiful thing called marriage that happened to her. She is a dancer and a crazy child at heart!