book : Ernest Hemingway | The Old Man and The Sea
song : Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 23 in A Major, K. 488: Adagio
If you have read the book, you must be asking why I consider this book as horrendously difficult to digest since it has the most effortless language of all the Pulitzer-winning books. Well.. it has sharks in it. I bought the book when I was in in junior high because I acknowledged that this is one of the front-runners of classic literature. Yet due to my phobia of sharks, the reading had to be adjourned for a few years—now, now, I know there’s no picture of sharks in it, but for me words are even more horrific because it gives you the most extreme vision of what you’re reading.
“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 the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy. He never dreamed about the boy. He simply woke, looked out the open door at the moon and unrolled his trousers and put them on.”
Salao, people call him though his real name is Santiago, an aged Cuban fisher. Salao means the most luckless out of all luckless. It’s September, the very month when sea is pervaded with fishes yet 85 days of fishing, Santiago manages to catch none. Then come along his helper, a young boy named Manolin. Though compelled by his family to walk away from the unfortunate old man, he’s evermore faithful to Santiago. Burnt out and gnarled, the gray-haired fisher has nothing left to do but to daydream that a stroke of luck would come his way. Just at dawn on the very last day, Santiago sets out to the sea not knowing his prayer is about to be answered, with a ginormous marlin. He struggles with the monstrous fish for two days and nights until ultimately he wins over the fish.. and the relentless jinx. But before all the triumphant moment, came my worst nightmare: the sharks. They came to hijack the marlin and despite Santiago has killed them after, there are still series of hurdles he has to face. Broken knife, losing a spear, almost subject to despair and anguish. Finally, he went home with a 18 feet long scraped marlin skeleton and his head held high, staggeringly leaves everyone open-mouthed.
The charm of the book lies in the clarity of the characters. Santiago is a proud and persistent man: 85 days without a catch, he’d still never allow people to discover his vulnerable side—he doesn’t confess that he’s not able to buy rice. Manolin acts as a consciousness knocking to find humility inside Santiago’s heart. He loves the old fisher and in return Santiago teaches him how to fish. The prose is pervasive and frugal, the portrayals are vividly tangible. More than just narrating, they’re showing us the picture:
“His back was as blue as a swordfish’s and his belly was silver…The shark closed fast astern and when he hit the fish the old man saw his mouth open and his strange eyes and the clicking chop of the teeth as drove forward…”
That very sentence scared the bejeezus out of me.
The book ends as it begins, on the seaside, Santiago is bowed and blood-soaked. And as to Manolin, the youthful solicitous lad, caters to the old man’s troubles and injuries. The Old Man and The Sea is a dubious story of a man’s battle with his own comprehension that age might walk off with many things, but wisdom. A story of man versus beast as well as man versus himself.
“Why do old men wake so early? Is it to have one longer day?”