Ernest HemingwayChris Ivie American Literature Dr. Breeden 10/2/96Many of Ernest Hemingway’s books have had different meaning and allcould be interpreted in different way, but there has never been so much writtenabout his other stories. Well the Old Man and the Sea had more written about itthan any of his other novels and there have never been so many different typesof interpretations about his other novels. The Old Man and the Sea is a book inwhich can be interpreted in many different ways.
Here you will read what manycritics have composed about the story of a great writer, Ernest Hemingway.Many of the critics have the same outlook on the works of Hemingway.Hemingway’s work The Old man and the Sea can be looked at in many differentperspectives. All the critics believed that his styling of writing was verydefined.In 1944 Ernest Hemingway went to Havana, Cuba and it was there he wrotea letter to Maxwell Perkins which states he has a idea on a new novel calledThe Old Man and the Sea ( Nelson and Jones 139). Hemingway first got his ideafor The Old Man and the Sea from the stories that he had heard in the smallfish cities in Cuba by a man named Carlos Gutierrez. He had known of this manfor about twenty years and the stories of the fighting marlins. It was thenthat he imagined that man under the two circumstances and came up with the idea.
After about twenty years of pondering on the story , he decided that he wouldstart on the novel of The Old Man and the Sea. The story The Old Man and theSea is about a old man named Santiago who has to over come the great forces ofnature. Things seem to always go wrong for him because originally he startedout going to fish for some dinner, then he caught the biggest marlin ever andit pulled him out in the bay of Cuba even more then he was. After he was pulledout, he hurt his hands and couldn’t risk going to sleep because of the risk ofsharks.
When the sharks finally attacked he lost the marlin which had become agreat part of him because he knew that no one would believe him when he toldthem the size of the marlin. This has to be one of the most memorable fights ina novel that I have ever seen, but I think that the way he put the noveltogether was just as good as that of the fight.When he put them together it was then that he relized that what he wasactually writing about was a struggle of man vs. nature. He liked the idea ofman vs.
nature and decided to use it in the struggle scene with the marlin.Magill wrote,” the book can be seen as a fable of the unconquerable spirit ofman, a creature capable of snatching spiritual victories from thecircumstances of disaster and material defeat” (Magill 4325). Also it issaid,” the conflict is of the strength of a ordinary man and the power ofnature”(Magill 4325). I feel that Santiago plays a large role in the novel bybeing able not to give in and prove to the element of nature that he would overcome them in the long run. Magill wrote,” The Old Man and the Sea is a direct descendant of MobyDick”(Magill 4326). He feels that the struggle between Santiago and themarlin is very much like that of the whale and the captain in Moby Dick. Thesimilarities between The Old Man and the Sea and Moby Dick are extremelynoticeable after reading both of the stories back to back, but there aredifferences in the story line. The main difference is that Santiago never comesout with anything unlike the captain in Moby Dick.
Santiago was left with justa broken boat, a bad fishing pole, and the misery of defeat.The story could also be interpreted as being religious because of thestruggle that Santiago was put though. Also it is felt by some people to bereligious because of the way he only cut his palms( from the rope), his feet(on the front of the boat) and his head(when the bow hit him in the head). It isoften portrayed as that of Jesus on the cross. I don’t know if I really agreewith this interpretation of it being religious. The reason I don’t agree withthis is because if everytime someone got cut on the hands and feet in a movieor book then I guess that they too resemble that of Jesus on the cross.
This story has many different interpretations to it, but would theinterpretations be if the story contained everyone from the village in it andsowed how the were raised, born, educated, and bore children. This story couldhave been well over a thousand pages if the above were included (Plimpton 125).The big question that I ask is though, if all the above were included in thenovel, how different do you think that the interpretation would be? I feelthat the interpretations would be so very different because the whole story becircled around that of the battle between Santiago and the marlin. Also, Ibelieve that the religious interpretations would be not as strong because ofdealing more with the life of the city people and that of Santiago.Hemingway is a writer who creates things out of his head.
If he wasn’t agenius then how come did he win a Pulitzer Pride for the story The Old Man andthe Sea Hemingway states,” I knew two or three things about the situation, butI didn’t know the story” ” I didn’t even know if that big fish was going tobite for the old man when it started smelling around the bait. I had to write oninventing out of knowledge. You reject everything that is not or can’t becompletely true.”(Bruccoli 179) I think that Hemingway is a genius for writingthis novel because in my point of view it shows the battle between human andnature and that really caught my attention rereading this novel for the thirdtime. I also caught the moral of the story in my point of view, and that isnot everything good that you have is always going to be there. To me that meansalot because that moral also refers alot about your family as well as friends.Hemingway is looked upon as one of the greatest writers to ever set footon this earth in the twentieth century. He is a writer who is know for leavingvery little left unsaid or leave you wondering, for example, what’s going tohappen, is he gonna die or not.
As you could see in this novel he got to thepoint in a direct manner without leaving anything unsaid and he definitelydidn’t leave you thinking about if Santiago was going to live or not.Many people do not like the writings of Ernest Hemingway because theyfeel most everything that he writes about is unhappy or make believe. FredrickBusch said at one point in time ,” He didn’t want to read that of which wasunhappy or make believe” referring to Hemingway’s work (Bryfonski 130). Manyhave said to believe that The Old Man and the Sea was written about the lifeof Ernest Hemingway, which in reality it was written about a Cuban by the nameof Carlos Gutierrez. However some of the parts in this story do relate tothings Hemingway has experienced.In conclusion, The Old Man and the Sea can be interpreted in manydifferent forms, but I think it isn’t how you interpret it. Don’t get me wrongsome people like to read to see how many ways you can interpret it but , youshould read a novel to learn from others mistakes and also for the pleasure ofexpanding you knowledge American and English literature. I could name manydifferent books in which I have read that have actually left a impact on mylife in some sort or another.
BibliographiesBruccoli, Matthew J. Conversations with Ernest Hemingway.Mississippi: UP Mississippi, 1986Bryfonski, Dedria. Contemporary Authors. Michigan: Bok Towers,1984Magill,Frank M. Masterplots.
8 vols., New Jersey: Salem Press,1976Nelson, Gerald B., and Glory Jones.Hemingway: Life and Works.
New York: Facts on FilePublications,1984Wagner, Linda W. Ernest Hemingway, Five Decades of Criticism .Michigan: Michigan State UP, 1974Wagner, Linda W. Ernest Hemingway, Six Decades of Criticism.Michigan: Michigan State UP, 1982