Discuss the Old Man and Sea by Hemingway as an adventure novel?

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Discuss the Old Man and Sea by Hemingway as an adventure novel?

Post by Archer on Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:51 am

Q: Give a critical estimate of Hemingway’s novel “The Old Man and Sea.”?

OR

Discuss the Old Man and Sea by Hemingway as an adventure novel?


Hemingway was a famous American novelist and short story writer who got Nobel Prize in Literature. He was a realistic artist whose dramatic style of narration created a revolution in English Fiction. The stories of his novels are mainly based on his personal experiences and observations of life. He had a rich experience of fighting at war fronts during World War Second. He also worked as a newspaper reporter which perfected him in the art of narration and effective use of language. He had deep interest in such games as bull-fighting, fishing and hunting. His favorite themes of writing were death, despair, human suffering and violence. The Old Man And The Sea’ was the last novel of his life which was awarded Pulitzer Prize in fiction. It is an adventure novel, celebrating the tenacious struggle of man against the nerve-breaking difficulties of life and the hostile forces of nature. Here Hemingway has benefited from his personal experience of fishing when he was in Cuba. It is this thing which makes the story of this novel quite realistic and convincing. He entertains us by telling the story of a Cuba fisherman who goes to the deep sea in his small boat and succeeds in catching an extraordinarily big fish. We are made to wonder at his exceptional courage and physical endurance in handling a fish that proves to be too strong for an old and unaided man like him. We praise him for his valiant fight against the sharks that attacked the angled fish when he was to turning to the shore with his booty.

The hero of this novel is an old and experienced fisherman named Santiago. He lives in a small cottage near the coast in Cuba. His wife had died long ago leaving behind no children. He is shown to be man of great physical strength who was declared a champion in the hand-game with a Negro. He is also a man of invincible determination. For eighty four days continuously he has been going on fishing in the Gulf Stream without success. People consider him an unlucky man and he has to lose his helper boy named Manolin, who has been working as an apprentice with him. But Santiago does not feel discouraged and sets out on fishing alone on the 85th day. He goes beyond the limits of the ordinary fishing area and succeeds in hooking a huge marlin in the deep sea. The enormous fish proves to be too heavy to be pulled to the surface of water. On the contrary, the baited fish starts moving to the north and then to the east, hawling the old fisherman and his boat after it. Santiago feels helpless against the powerful fish and tries to defeat it by tact and experience. He keeps the heavy line tightly pulled with his hands, encircling it round his back and shoulders. For two days and nights, he continues struggling against the mighty fish straining every nerve and muscle of his body, without having anything to eat or getting even a moment of rest and relaxation. He keeps himself alive and nourished by eating raw fishes. His only hope is to fatigue the marlin who will get nothing to eat and finally to kill it by drawing it closer to the boat. The old fisherman proves to be an embodiment of endurance and undefeatable spirit.

At last the hooked marlin rises to the surface on the third day. Although Santiago feels completely exhausted with his injured hands and cramped arms yet, he musters up his whole strength and thrusts his harpoon at the heart of the marlin. It brings about the death of the gigantic creature. The fish is too big to be accommodated in the small boat, so that Santiago lashes it alongside his skiff. Then he sets sail towards the shore. By chance the trade wind that is blowing proves quite helpful in his homeward voyage. But a new trouble arises for him in the shape of sharks that get the smell of the blood flowing from the body of the marlin. They attack it in groups to eat its flesh. He tries to defend himself and his fish with such insufficient weapons as a harpoon, a knife and a club. He succeeds in keeping off the plundering sharks during the day time to some extent. But he feels helpless at night when he cannot see the invaders. Consequently when he reaches the native harbor, there is nothing left of the big fish except its skeleton. The old man apparently loses the battle that he had won but his victory cannot be minimized. The real purpose of his valiant struggle is to demonstrate that “man is not made for defeat; he can be destroyed but not defeated.”

‘The Old Man And The Sea’ is a symbolic tale that glorifies human struggle to survive and succeed in life. The old fisherman Santiago stands for the brave and ambitious human beings who fight against heavy odds to achieve their aims of life. The sea is the symbol of the vast life that is full of prospects as well as hazards for valiant strugglers. The sharks represent the unforeseen dangers and the unfavorable circumstances that try to frustrate and foil human ambitions and achievements. The story may be called a tragedy because the ultimate result is disappointing. It shows the helplessness and essential loneliness of man against the callous forces of nature that try to deprive him of what he succeeds in snatching from the cruel hand of Nature. The story is meant to teach us the moral lesson that life should not be judged in terms of success or failure; the real thing is the valiant fight which is rewarding in itself.

The story has been narrated by Santiago the old fisherman. It may be called a monologue because the hero continues speaking to himself throughout. His musings are about the sea, the weather, the hooked fish, his apprentice boy who could be helpful to him, his past when he was young and powerful, the sharks that attack him and so on. The language is simple, lucid and effective.

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