I was 15 the first time I read Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea. I remember thinking when discovering it: “Really? A Pulitzer Prize book that’s only 127 pages? I can do that!” And I did.
I liked it. It was an easy read. I felt for the man, and it was inspiring. Last week, I finished it for the second time, some 14 years after I first read it. My feelings haven’t changed much, but I appreciate Hemingway’s metaphors more so this time than the last. Some updated thoughts:
Santiago, the old man in question, is relentless. Despite his age, he proves that life is hard, but worth fighting for. Consider this battle cry on page 110, after Santiago had been drug out to sea for three days by an 18 foot marlin he caught. “Now is no time to think of what you do not have,” the man says, after loosing his harpoon while defending his catch from sharks. “Think of what you can do with what there is.” He then grabbed an ore and fastened a knife to it. Ata boy!
The book is filled with similar optimism, despite the man’s extreme hardships. I won’t spoil the ending for any who haven’t read it (which only takes a couple of hours at most). Just know it’s an encouraging reminder to always “fight” the sharks in life. “Fight them until you die.”
I can do that. And I will.