The Old Man and the Sea | 2018-09-02 |


The Old Man and the Sea

Mahmudur Rahman Khan     2 September, 2018 12:00 AM printer

The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and The Sea is an elegant work by the renowned American author Ernest Hemingway which was published in 1952. This book shows the story of courage, bravery, heroism and the fight for survival of an old man. We see the struggle of an old man against the fish, sea and the environment. It is the last major work on fiction by Hemingway. Hemingway was awarded Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1953 and Nobel Prize in literature in 1954 for this magnificent work.

The story begins with the protagonist, Santiago, an old Cuban fisherman, who hasn't caught any fish till 84 days. Other fishermen were mocking him and he was called 'salao', which means the worst form of unlucky. Manolin, his former sailing mate, who was fishing with him since he was five years old, also abandoned him because of Santiago's poor fishing record. Many started to doubt about his abilities as a fisherman. Then Santiago proclaims that he will go out into the Gulf Stream and catch a big fish to break this unlucky streak. On day 85, he goes out into the Gulf Stream with his small fishing skiff and goes a little farther out than he normally goes to catch a fish.

Afterwards, he was able to catch the attention of a large marlin. It was an 18 feet long gigantic fish. He was able to hook that fish and then the battle of survival starts. The fish was larger than his skiff. He was not strong enough to handle that giant fish. So, he tied the coils of rope with his bruised hand and let his skiff to move with the wave steadily. His hands were bleeding and he felt so much pains but he consoled himself by saying, 'Pain does not matter to a man.'

His boat was dragged out to the sea for three days. Finally, the fish became tired and Santiago was able to kill it. He was surviving because he loves to catch fish and he took it as his passion. He did not kill the fish only to keep him alive and to sell for food, he killed the fish for pride because he is a fisherman. After killing the fish, Santiago did not win the battle at all because he was still far out to sea. He keeps tugging the marlin behind his boat and started his journey going back to home but the blood from the dead fish attracted the sharks. He did his best to repel the sharks, but he was unsuccessful. The sharks ate all the flesh of the marlin and only the bones were left.

Later on, Santiago went back to the shore with the skeleton of the large marlin. He falls asleep in his shack with his weariness and tiredness. The next day, other fishermen saw Santiago’s boat and they realized how big the fish was and the perception of others about Santiago becomes wrong. Manolin comes there in the morning and wakes the old man. He saw the old man's hands and started to cry. He went out to bring some coffee for the old man and promised that they will once again fish together.

Hemingway snugly portrayed the fierce, brave, courage and the inner strength of the old man. He simply described the story as well as used the lucid dictions. During the struggle of catching the fish, Santiago holds on to the rope with his cut and smashed hands. Even he continued eating and sleeping in that critical time to survive strongly. He tried to catch the fish and hold on the rope as though his life depends on it. Hemingway demonstrated the power and the masculinity of a simple fisherman with the heroism of Santiago, as he said, 'Man is not made for defeat, and a man can be destroyed but not defeated.' Thus, this epic struggle of the old man makes him a classical hero.


The writer is a student of Department of English, Khilgaon Model University College, Khilgaon, Dhaka