Book Summary & Review: The Old Man & the Sea by Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea is a short novel by Ernest Hemingway, awarded the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It is the story of Santiago, an aging Cuban fisherman who struggles with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Cuba.

It\’s a beautifully written story about courage, determination, and the human spirit. The novel is full of symbolism, and it has been interpreted in many different ways. It\’s one of my favorite timeless classics!

Some critics have seen the marlin as a symbol of Santiago\’s own mortality. The sharks that attack the marlin can be seen as a symbol of the forces of nature that are always at work against us. However, the novella is ultimately an optimistic story about the human ability to overcome adversity.

The Old Man and the Sea is a short book, but it is a powerful one. It is a story that will stay with you long after you have finished reading it.


Summary of the Old Man and the Sea

Santiago has not caught a fish for 84 days and is considered unlucky by the villagers. His young apprentice, Manolin, has been forbidden by his parents to fish with him and has been sent to a more prosperous boat. However, Manolin still cares for Santiago and brings him food and bait. Santiago is confident that his luck will change and decides to sail farther than usual the next day.

On the 85th day, Santiago hooks a huge marlin that drags his boat for two days and two nights. Santiago admires the fish for its strength, beauty, and dignity and feels a brotherly bond with it. He endures pain, hunger, thirst, and fatigue as he fights to keep the line. He also thinks about his past life, his love for baseball, and his hero Joe DiMaggio.

The Role Model of the book: DiMaggio

Joe DiMaggio is a very important symbol and character in the novel. He is a famous baseball player who plays for the New York Yankees, Santiago\’s favorite team. Santiago admires DiMaggio for his skill, strength, and resilience. He also feels a connection with him because they both have humble origins and share a fisherman father.

DiMaggio inspires Santiago to keep fighting and enduring despite his pain, fatigue, and bad luck. Santiago often thinks of DiMaggio and his bone spurs, a painful condition that affects his heels, and compares himself to him. He wonders if DiMaggio would stay with the fish as long as he does, or if he would suffer as much as he does. DiMaggio represents the ultimate hero for Santiago, someone who does all things perfectly even with the pain of the bone spur in his heel.

DiMaggio also serves as a way for Santiago to bond with Manolin, the young boy who helps him. They both love baseball and talk about the games and the players. They also share a common admiration for DiMaggio and his father. Manolin tells Santiago that he is the greatest fisherman and compares him to DiMaggio.

DiMaggio symbolizes persistence and resilience in the face of adversity, qualities that Santiago also possesses and values. He is a role model and a source of motivation for Santiago, who tries to be worthy of him. He is also a link between Santiago and Manolin, who share a father-son relationship based on fishing and baseball.

Back to the Summary/ Story

On the third day, he finally manages to pull the fish close enough to kill it with a harpoon. He ties the marlin to his boat and heads back home, proud of his catch.

However, his victory is short-lived as sharks are attracted by the blood of the marlin. Santiago kills the first shark with his harpoon, but loses it in the process. He then makes a makeshift weapon with his knife and an oar, but it is not enough to fend off the relentless attacks. The old man fights bravely until the end, but gradually loses most of the flesh of the marlin to the sharks. He arrives at the harbor at night, exhausted and defeated, with only the skeleton of the fish left. He carries his mast to his shack and falls asleep.

The next morning, the villagers are amazed by the size of the marlin\’s skeleton. Manolin finds Santiago alive and cries for him. He brings him coffee and promises to fish with him again. Santiago dreams of his youth and of lions on an African beach.

So that\’s the summary of the old man and the sea. Let me share a review of this timeless classic.

Review of the Old man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea is a classic example of Hemingway\’s simple and powerful style of writing. He uses short sentences, vivid descriptions, and realistic dialogue to convey the themes of courage, perseverance, dignity, and honor. The novel is also rich in symbolism and allegory, as it explores the universal human condition of facing one\’s mortality, overcoming challenges, and finding meaning in life.

Some of the themes explored in The Old Man and the Sea include:

i. Courage: Santiago\’s determination to catch the marlin is a testament to his courage. He faces many challenges, but he never gives up.
ii. Determination: Santiago is determined to catch the marlin, even when it seems impossible. He refuses to give up, even when he is exhausted and injured.
iii. The human spirit: The Old Man and the Sea is a story about the human spirit. Santiago\’s struggle with the marlin is a metaphor for the struggle of life itself.
iv. Nature: The natural world plays an important role in The Old Man and the Sea. The marlin is a symbol of the power of nature, and the sharks are a symbol of the destructive forces of nature.

Final Words on the book

The novel is widely regarded as one of Hemingway\’s masterpieces and one of the greatest works of American literature. It showcases Hemingway\’s skill as a storyteller and his ability to create memorable characters and scenes. The novel also reflects Hemingway\’s own experiences as a fisherman, a writer, and a wounded veteran who struggled with physical and mental health issues.

The novel has been adapted into several films, plays, operas, and musicals. It has also inspired many other writers and artists who have drawn from its themes and imagery. The novel remains relevant today as it speaks to the universal human values of courage, resilience, and hope.

How did you like the summary of the old man and the sea? We encourage you toread the book or perhaps re-read it again.


4 responses to “Book Summary & Review: The Old Man & the Sea by Hemingway”

  1. Shashwat Ranjan Avatar
    Shashwat Ranjan

    Very well written review of a amazing book.

    1. Do read the book to get more out of it!

  2. Sangeeta Varma Avatar
    Sangeeta Varma

    An excellent review !! This has motivated me to read this timeless classic from Ernest Hemingway once again. The structured review has already highlighted the take aways from “The Old Man and The Sea” so thank you for that.

    1. You’re welcome. We enjoy reading and sharing. That’s what you can do too. Spread the cheer!

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