43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Some positive remarks,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Old Man and The Sea (Paperback)
I feel compelled to write a few words for Hemingway here after reading some of the negative reviews here. It seems that many of the people got bored of the book because there are no sucessive excitements throughout the story; and many just thought that this was merely one of the many books which has murmurred throughout on a boring theme---fishing.
But I think some of the commentators here have missed some important points. Firstly, Santiago is an Old Man as well as an experienced fisherman. It will be quite absurd to expect such an old experienced fisherman to become over-excited and hyper-sensitive because of some petty wounds or expected struggles with the fish. And as we all know one of the most important quality of a fisherman is to stay calm whether one has been waiting in idle for many hours or one is trying desperately to deal with a struggling fish. I think it is just unjust to expect Santiago to behave in a way that a younger college boy would do to make fun of himself and cheer up the audience in a Hollywood comedy. Anyway, you would not really expect to read some exaggerated sensational treatment of the theme by Hemingway, hear Santiago screaming because a few bloods came out of his slightly hurt right hand, or whine helplessly because the big fish was chopped off bit by bit by the sharks, would you?
Furthermore, some remarked that, despite whatever they have said negatively, they were still inspired by the theme, that if you persist on pursuing something, even if others think you are unlucky as well as incapable to achieve that, at the end of the day you will achieve that very goal. But in my opinion that is not the real inspiration of the story; the true inspiration comes from the dramatic plot towards the end that the big fish was eventually totally torn off and eaten by the sharks when Santiago finally came back to the shore. And I think this is where this story of Hemingway has distinguished itself from many of the other petty attempts by others to encapsulate the same theme. The message is that even if one has won something for a while, one may not be able to hold it for long and soon it will reduce to nothing. But one should not be discouraged by that. For the highest virtue and courage lies in doing something purely for something's sake instead of for its other rewards. Even if one fails to achieve something at the end, the very process that one has ever tried and persisted till the last minute alone is enough to justify one's effort. It is this 'attitude of a true man' that has driven us to build up what we refer to as the human civilization. And it is also this attitude that has embodied some of the most admirable elements of humanity.
The crying of the boy also showed that Santiago did not achieve nothing; at least he has inspired a boy, who was obviously much more 'valuable', if one wants to speak in this way, than the big fish. So, by changing one's perspective, one can see that Santiago's 87 days attempt was not futile at all; it has brought about a heart as passionate and courageous as his in his younger friend. Material treasures will not last, and it will have to go anyway when one moves his leg into the grave; But spiritual transformation can endure, and be spread from one to another and yet another, as through Hemingway's account of it, eternally from generation to generations to come.
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Initial post: Jul 4, 2011 5:52:33 AM PDT
William L. Goff says:
Excellent analysis. Thank you.
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