The Old Man and the Sea grips me like few other books. I literally feel myself swaying in the skiff (boat) trying to pull in the marlin with the fishing rope digging into my palm. It comes alive in ways that few other books do.
I first read The Old Man and the Sea during college. I loved it. This is the second time I read the book. It’s amazing how I remember how the story grabbed me that first time.
The Old Man and the Sea is a short 127 pages and can easily be read in one sitting. It follows the story of an old Cuban man on a solo fishing expedition who lands a big marlin. The old man is using very basic fishing materials and has an epic battle with the fish. Parts of it remind me of Moby Dick and the fear/respect given to the fish. The old man and the fish get to peer into one another’s eyes and test each other’s souls.
There are some beautiful parts of this book that have stuck with me since my first reading. The Spanish word for ocean is el mar. El is a masculine pronoun. But Hemmingway has Santiago, the Old Man, describe his beloved ocean in the feminine – la mar. I love that.
I also like the way Hemmingway describes Santiago’s love and respect for the marlin. He wonders who will end up eating the marlin and if they are even worthy to eat such a great fish. The old man says:
There is no one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behavior and his great dignity.
I can’t wait to read this book to my daughter. It’s short enough to where I could break it up into 5 parts and get through it in one week. This is one of those books I hope to pick up every few years and see how it speaks to me over my lifetime.
This is book 2 of 52 of the 2017 Books of Titans reading list.