He was born in Illinois. He started his career in newspaper office in Kansas city in the age of 17. During the First World War he volunteered in ambulance unit Italy. He was wounded. After his return to the United States, he became a reporter for newspapers and was soon sent back to Europe to cover such events as the Greek Revolution.
During the twenties, Hemingway became a member of the group of expatriate-vyhostený Americans in Paris, which he described in his first important work, The Sun Also Rises (1926). Equally successful was A Farewell to Arms (1929), the study of an American ambulance officer's disillusionment in the war and his role as a deserter. His experiences during the civil war in Spain served as the background for his novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). Among his later works, The Old Man and the Sea (1952)- old fisherman's journey, his long and lonely struggle with a fish and the sea, and his victory in defeat.
Hemingway liked to portray soldiers, hunters, bullfighters - tough, at times primitive people whose courage and honesty are set against the brutal ways of modern society, and who in this confrontation lose hope and faith. His straightforward prose, his spare dialogue, and his predilection for understatement are particularly effective in his short stories, some of which are collected in Men Without Women (1927) and The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories (1938). Hemingway died in Idaho in 1961.
Lost generation- Gertrude Stein- he war's effect on their lives and the futility and meaninglessness of life.
The Old man and the sea
Plot and structure:
The Old Man and the Sea is the story of an epic struggle between an old fisherman and the greatest catch of his life. For eighty-four days, Santiago, an aged Cuban fisherman, has set out to sea and returned empty-handed. The parents of his young friend, Manolin, have forced the boy to leave the old man in order to fish in a more prosperous boat. Nevertheless, the boy continues to care for the old man upon his return each night. He secures food for him, and discusses the latest developments in American baseball, especially the old man’s hero, Joe DiMaggio. Santiago is confident that his unproductive streak will soon come to an end, and he decides to sail out farther than usual.
On the eighty-fifth day of his unlucky streak, Santiago sails his skiff far beyond the island’s shallow coastal waters and venturing into the Gulf Stream. At noon, a big fish, which he knows is a marlin, takes the bait-návnada. The old man cannot pull it in. Instead, the fish begins to pull the boat.
The old man bears the strain-ťah, napnutie of the line with his shoulders, back, and hands. The fish pulls the boat all through 2 days and nights. It swims steadily northwest until at last it tires and swims east with the current. The entire time, Santiago endures constant pain. Although wounded, the old man feels a deep empathy and admiration for the marlin, his brother in suffering, strength, and resolve.
On the third day the fish tires, and Santiago, sleep-deprived, aching, and nearly delirious, manages to pull the marlin in close enough to kill it with a harpoon thrust. Dead marlin is the largest Santiago has ever seen. He sets sail for home. While Santiago is excited by the price that the marlin will bring at market, he is more concerned that the people who will eat the fish are unworthy of its greatness.
As Santiago sails on with the fish, the marlin’s blood leaves a trail in the water and attracts sharks. The first to attack is a great mako shark, which Santiago manages to slay with the harpoon. The old man loses the harpoon and valuable rope. The old man fights off best he can. He kills several sharks, more and more appear. They devour the marlin’s precious meat, leaving only skeleton, head, and tail. Santiago chastises himself for going “out too far,” and for sacrificing his great and worthy opponent. He arrives home before daybreak and sleeps very deeply.
The next morning, a crowd of amazed fishermen gathers around the skeleton of the fish. Knowing nothing of the old man’s struggle, tourists at a nearby café observe the remains of the giant marlin and mistake it for a shark. Manolin, who has been worried over the old man’s absence, is moved to tears when he finds Santiago safe in his bed. The boy fetches the old man some coffee and the daily papers with the baseball scores, and watches him sleep. When the old man wakes, the two agree to fish as partners once more. The old man goes to sleep, dreams his dream of lions at play on the beaches of Africa.
Santiago: protagonist- an old Cuban fisherman with bad luck, unable to catch a fish for eighty-four days, has become the laughingstock of his small village, has knowledge of the sea, its creatures, and of his craft, a sense of hope regardless of circumstance. The marlin with which he struggles for three days represents his greatest challenge. Paradoxically, although Santiago ultimately loses the fish, the marlin is also his greatest victory.
Santiago is an old man whose physical existence is almost over, but the reader is assured that Santiago will persist through Manolin, who awaits the old man’s teachings and will make use of those lessons long after his teacher has died. Santiago finds a way to prolong his life after death.
Santiago’s commitment to sailing out farther than any fisherman has before testifies to the depth of his pride. Yet, it also shows his determination to change his luck. His hubris (exaggerated pride) has ruined both the marlin and himself. Santiago’s pride also enables him to achieve his most true and complete self. Furthermore, it helps him earn the deeper respect of the village fishermen and secures him the prized companionship of the boy.
Hemingway seems to believe that there are only two options: defeat or endurance until destruction; Santiago clearly chooses the latter. For three days, he holds fast to the line that links him to the fish, even though it cuts deeply into his palms, causes a crippling cramp in his left hand, and ruins his back. This physical pain allows Santiago to create a connection with the marlin- he is well matched fish, a worthy opponent, and that he himself, because he is able to fight so hard, is a worthy fisherman. This connectedness to the world around him eventually elevates Santiago beyond what would otherwise be his defeat. Like Christ, to whom Santiago is unashamedly compared at the end of the novella, the old man’s physical suffering leads to a more significant spiritual triumph.
The marlin – hooked by Santiago on the first afternoon of his fishing expedition; we find out that he at the end of the novella measures eighteen feet. Because of the marlin’s great size, Santiago is unable to pull the fish in, and the two become engaged in a kind of tug-of-war that often seems more like an alliance than a struggle. The fishing line serves as a symbol of the connection. When the captured marlin is destroyed by sharks, Santiago feels destroyed as well. Like Santiago, the marlin is implicitly compared to Christ.
Manolin - An adolescent boy and Santiago’s apprentice. The old man first took him out on a boat when he was merely five years old. Due to Santiago’s recent bad luck, Manolin’s parents have forced the boy to go out on a different fishing boat. Manolin, however, still cares deeply for the old man, to whom he continues to look as a mentor. The two discuss baseball. Manolin is present only in the beginning and at the end of the novel. His presence highlights Santiago’s value as a person and as a fisherman. Manolin demonstrates his love for Santiago openly. He makes sure that the old man has food, blankets, and can rest without being bothered. Despite Hemingway’s insistence that his characters were a real old man and a real boy, Manolin’s purity and singleness of purpose elevate him to the level of a symbolic character. He is a companion who feels nothing but love and devotion.
Hemingway does hint at the boy’s resentment for his father, whose wishes Manolin obeys by abandoning the old man after forty days without catching a fish. He’s a person with conflicted loyalties who faces difficult decisions. By the end of the book, however, the boy abandons his duty to his father, swearing that he will sail with the old man regardless of the consequences.
Joe DiMaggio - never appears in the novel, Santiago worships him as a model of strength and commitment, and his thoughts turn toward DiMaggio whenever he needs to reassure himself of his own strength. DiMaggio suffered a bone spur in his heel right around the time The Old Man and the Sea takes place. DiMaggio ended up being completely successful despite his handicap – kind of like the old man. He becomes a symbol for withstanding pain, for endurance throughout suffering, to achieve the impossible. He was a center fielder for the New York Yankees from 1936 to 1951, and is often considered the best all-around player ever at that position.
Perico - assumingly he owns the bodega-krčma in Santiago’s village. He never appears in the novel. He provides fisherman with newspapers that report the baseball scores. This act establishes him as a kind man who helps the aging Santiago.
Martin - a café owner in Santiago’s village, does not appear in the story. The reader learns of him through Manolin, who often goes to Martin for Santiago’s supper. As the old man says, Martin is a man of frequent kindness who deserves to be repaid.
(time) • Late 1940s
(place) • A small fishing village near Havana, Cuba; the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, on the boat mostly
Point of view:
The novella is narrated by an anonymous narrator. Sometimes the narrator describes the characters and events objectively, that is, as they would appear to an outside observer. However, the narrator frequently provides details about Santiago’s inner thoughts and dreams. The story begins and ends with a third-person, omniscient narration that doesn't dip into Santiago's thoughts. On the other hand, the part of the story that takes place at sea draws closer to Santiago's perspective by letting him talk to himself, by presenting a third-person narration of his thoughts, or by drifting subtly from either of these methods into a kind of interior monologue or limited stream of consciousness. This perspective is essential to the story's middle part at sea. Transition into Santiago's thoughts seems logical and intuitive because he is alone at sea, with no one to talk to, so does the transition back out again because he returns to land so deeply exhausted.
Past tense is used. Hemingway's writing style owes much to his career as a journalist. Short words, straightforward sentence structures, vivid descriptions and factual details, repeated images, allusions, and themes; repeated sounds, rhythms, words, and sentence structures. The language also resonates with complex emotions and larger and larger meanings. Hemingway himself claimed that he wrote on the "principle of the iceberg," meaning that "seven-eighths" of the story lay below the surface parts that show / Hemingway's efforts to pare down language and convey as much as possible in as few words as possible, the novella's meanings resonate on a larger and larger scale/. Simple plot and distance from much of this period’s political affairs.
Historical and factual references: Baseball references enabled critics to determine the exact dates in September when the story takes place; to infer a great deal about Cuba's cultural, economic, and social circumstances at the time; and to establish Manolin's exact age.
Despite the narrator’s journalistic, matter-of-fact tone, his reverence for Santiago and his struggle is apparent. The text affirms its hero to a degree unusual even for Hemingway. The point of view is rather self-explanatory. Some disembodied voice tells us what’s up and head-hops from the old man’s thoughts to the thoughts of the boy with ease.
Pride as the source of greatness and determination: it is apparently Santiago's pride which presses him to travel dangerously far out into the sea. While he loved the marlin and called him brother, Santiago admits to killing it for pride. Some have interpreted the loss of the marlin as the price Santiago had to pay for his pride. Hemingway suggests that pride in a job well done, even if pride drew one unnecessarily into the situation, is a positive trait.
Unity: Hemingway spends a good deal of time drawing connections between Santiago and his natural environment: the fish, birds, and stars are all his brothers or friends, he has the heart of a turtle, eats turtle eggs for strength, drinks shark liver oil for health, etc. For Santiago, success and failure are two equal facets of the same existence- unity between himself and nature. As long as he focuses on this unity and sees himself as part of nature rather than as an external antagonist competing with it, he cannot be defeated by whatever misfortunes befall him.
Heroism: For Santiago the fisherman to be a heroic emblem for humankind, his tribulations must be monumental. Triumph, though, is never final. As Santiago says, "[M]an is not made for defeat....A man can be destroyed but not defeated" (103).
Manhood: To be a man is to behave with honor and dignity: to not succumb to suffering, to accept one's duty without complaint, and most importantly, to display a maximum of self-control.
Success: Hemingway draws a distinction between two different types of success: outer, material success and inner, spiritual success. While Santiago clearly lacks the former, the import of this lack is eclipsed by his possession of the later. Santiago can end the novella undefeated after steadily losing his hard-earned, most valuable possession.
Worthiness: Santiago is obsessed with proving his worthiness to those around him. He had to prove himself to the boy: "the thousand times he had proved it mean nothing. Now he was proving it again. Each time was a new time and he never thought about the past when he was doing it" (66).It requires constant demonstration of one's worthiness through noble action.
Crucifixion imagery: Crucifixion imagery is the most noticeable way in which Hemingway creates the symbolic parallel between Santiago and Christ. When Santiago’s palms are first cut by his fishing line, the reader cannot help but think of Christ suffering his stigmata. Later, when the sharks arrive, Hemingway portrays the old man as a crucified martyr, saying that he makes a noise similar to that of a man having nails driven through his hands. Furthermore, the image of the old man struggling up the hill with his mast across his shoulders recalls Christ’s march toward Calvary. Hemingway turns loss into gain, defeat into triumph, and even death into renewed life.
Life from death: His success at bringing the marlin/ death/ in earns him the awed respect of the fishermen/ life/ who once mocked him, and secures him the companionship of Manolin/life/ , the apprentice who will carry on Santiago’s teachings long after the old man has died.
The lions on the beach/ dream- suggest the circular nature of life/: The first time is the night before he departs on his three-day fishing expedition, the second occurs when he sleeps on the boat for a few hours in the middle of his struggle with the marlin, and the third takes place at the very end of the book. Santiago was a sailor in his youth, and traveled to Africa, where he saw young lions playing on the beach. Dreaming about the lions each night provides Santiago with a link to his younger days, as well as the strength and idealism that are associated with youth.
Additionally, because Santiago imagines the lions, fierce predators, playing, his dream suggests a harmony between the opposing forces—life and death, love and hate, destruction and regeneration—of nature.
Symbolism, allusions, myth:
The marlin: Magnificent and glorious, the marlin symbolizes the ideal opponent. Santiago feels lucky to find himself matched against a creature that brings out the best in him: his strength, courage, love, and respect.
The shovel-nosed sharks: As opponents of the old man, they stand in bold contrast to the marlin, which is worthy of Santiago’s effort and strength. They symbolize and embody the destructive laws of the universe. Because they are base predators, Santiago wins no glory from battling them.
The boy: Even more so than the lions, the boy provides Santiago with the ultimate symbol of youth, potency, and hope. More often than he prays to God for help, the old man recalls memories of Manolin -- wishing the boy were there -- to give him strength in his time of need.
Santiago's Hands: The scars on the old man's hands are introduced in an opening description of Santiago. His hands "had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords. But none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert" (10). Later, during his encounter with the marlin, the line cuts his right hand when the fish lurches. Santiago understands, "You're feeling it now, fish....And so, God knows, am I" (56). As his hand cramps, and he begins to worry about the possibility of sharks, the old man's suffering is evident. This image of Santiago's bleeding hand, in conjunction with his suffering at sea, recalls the image of Jesus Christ's hand bloodied by the nails used to crucify him. Appropriately, it is only when the boy "saw the old man's hands" (122) that he starts to cry.
Genre: Novella, Parable; tragedy
My own interpretation:
major conflict • For three days, Santiago struggles against the greatest fish of his long career.
rising action • After eighty-four successive days without catching a fish, Santiago promises his former assistant, Manolin, that he will go “far out” into the ocean. The marlin takes the bait, but Santiago is unable to reel him in, which leads to a three-day struggle between the fisherman and the fish.
climax • The marlin circles the skiff while Santiago slowly reels him in. Santiago nearly passes out from exhaustion but gathers enough strength to harpoon the marlin through the heart, causing him to lurch in an almost sexual climax of vitality before dying.
falling action • Santiago sails back to shore with the marlin tied to his boat. Sharks follow the marlin’s trail of blood and destroy it. Santiago arrives home toting only the fish’s skeletal carcass. The village fishermen respect their formerly ridiculed peer, and Manolin pledges to return to fishing with Santiago. Santiago falls into a deep sleep and dreams of lions.
foreshadowing • Santiago’s insistence that he will sail out farther than ever before foreshadows his destruction; because the marlin is linked to Santiago, the marlin’s death foreshadows Santiago’s own destruction by the sharks.
Important Quotations Explained
1. 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 of the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy.
Santiago no longer dreams of any of these. He dreams only about the lions. The lions here are at play and thus suggest a time of youth and ease. They are also linked explicitly to Manolin, a connection that is made apparent at the end of the novel as the boy watches over his aged friend as Santiago’s dream of the lion’s returns.
3. “I have never seen or heard of such a fish. But I must kill him. I am glad we do not have to try to kill the stars.” Imagine if each day a man must try to kill the moon, he thought. The moon runs away. . . . Then he was sorry for the great fish that had nothing to eat and his determination to kill him never relaxed in his sorrow for him. . . . There is no one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behavior and his great dignity. I do not understand these things, he thought. But it is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers.
This passage is found at the end of the third day. As Santiago struggles with the marlin, he reflects upon the nature of the universe and his place in it. He displays both pity for the fish and a determination to kill it, because the marlin’s death helps to reinvigorate the fisherman’s life. The predatory nature of this exchange is inevitable, for just as hawks will continue to hunt warblers, men will continue to kill marlin, and sharks will continue to rob them of their catches. His opponent is worthy—so worthy, in fact, that he later goes on to say that it doesn’t matter who kills whom. There is, in the old man’s estimation, some sense to this order. Man can achieve greatness only when placed in a well-matched contest against his earthly brothers.
4. 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. He seemed to hang in the air above the old man in the skiff. Then he fell into the water with a crash that sent spray over the old man and over all of the skiff.
The killing of the marlin, which occurs on the fourth day of the narrative, marks the climax of the novella. The end of the marlin’s life is the most vital of moments, as the fish comes alive “with his death in him” and exhibits to Santiago, more strongly than ever before, “all his power and his beauty.” The fish seems to transcend his own death, because it invests him with a new life. Like the fish, the old man suffers something of a death on his way back to the village. He is stripped of his quarry and, given his age, will likely never have the opportunity to land such a magnificent fish again. Nevertheless, he returns to the village with his spirit and his reputation revitalized.
5. 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 you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?
As Santiago sails back to his village on the fourth day of the novella, he tries to make sense of the destruction he has witnessed. He feels deeply apologetic toward the fish. He attempts to explain to himself his reasons for killing the fish, and admits that his desire to hunt the fish stemmed from the very same quality that led to its eventual destruction: his pride. He then justifies his behavior by claiming that his slaying of the marlin was necessitated by his love and respect for it. Indeed, when Santiago kills the fish, the loss of life is somehow transcendently beautiful, as opposed to the bold, senseless scavenging on the part of the sharks.