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The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea

Author: Ernest Hemingway
Rating: 9/10
Last Read: May 2017

Quick Summary:  The Old Man and the Sea is a short book by Hemingway which focuses on an old Cuban fisherman who has gone three months without catching a fish.  He is seen as bad luck, and sets out to sea alone so as to not bring bad luck upon his young companion.

The old man manages to finally break his streak of bad luck by hooking a big fish - but he gets dragged further out to sea by the fish for two days as he strains against the lines and hopes to catch it.  His opponent is more than he bargained for, and a great struggle ensues.

This is a quick read, but I found it to be very emotionally powerful. I feel for the old man, struggling to survive and prove himself against a great foe, and for the eventual tragedy at the end. I agree with the old man, it would have been better if he had not gone out so far and hooked such a notable creature.

My Highlights

Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated. --loc 66

He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach. --loc 204

Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready. --loc 268

He also drank a cup of shark liver oil each day from the big drum in the shack where many of the fishermen kept their gear. It was there for all fishermen who wanted it. Most fishermen hated the taste. But it was no worse than getting up at the hours that they rose and it was very good against all colds and grippes and it was good for the eyes. --loc 312

No one should be alone in their old age, he thought. But it is unavoidable. --loc 407

He looked across the sea and knew how alone he was now. But he could see the prisms in the deep dark water and the line stretching ahead and the strange undulation of the calm. The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea. --loc 518

I wonder why he jumped, the old man thought. He jumped almost as though to show me how big he was. I know now, anyway, he thought. I wish I could show him what sort of man I am. But then he would see the cramped hand. Let him think I am more man than I am and I will be so. I wish I was the fish, he thought, with everything he has against only my will and my intelligence. --loc 547

He was comfortable but suffering, although he did not admit the suffering at --loc 552

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” Then he added, “Blessed Virgin, pray for the death of this fish. Wonderful though he is.” --loc 557

The thousand times that he had proved it meant nothing. Now he was proving it again. Each time was a new time and he never thought about the past when he was doing it. --loc 567

The punishment of the hook is nothing. The punishment of hunger, and that he is against something that he does not comprehend, is everything. --loc 656

I’m clear enough in the head, he thought. Too clear. I am as clear as the stars that are my brothers. Still I must sleep. They sleep and the moon and the sun sleep and even the ocean sleeps sometimes on certain days when there is no current and a flat calm. --loc 664

“Fish,” the old man said. “Fish, you are going to have to die anyway. Do you have to kill me too?” --loc 792

You are killing me, fish, the old man thought. But you have a right to. Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who. --loc 796

“Come on, fish,” he said. But the fish did not come. Instead he lay there wallowing now in the seas and the old man pulled the skiff up onto him. --loc 827

Then his head started to become a little unclear and he thought, is he bringing me in or am I bringing him in? If I were towing him behind there would be no question. Nor if the fish were in the skiff, with all dignity gone, there would be no question either. But they were sailing together lashed side by side and the old man thought, let him bring me in if it pleases him. I am only better than him through trickery and he meant me no harm. --loc 854

But that was the location of the brain and the old man hit it. He hit it with his blood mushed hands driving a good harpoon with all his strength. He hit it without hope but with resolution and complete malignancy. --loc 879

“But man is not made for defeat,” he said. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” I am sorry that I killed the fish though, he thought. Now the bad time is coming and I do not even have the harpoon. The dentuso is cruel and able and strong and intelligent. But I was more intelligent than he was. Perhaps not, he thought. Perhaps I was only better armed. --loc 890

It is silly not to hope, he thought. Besides I believe it is a sin. Do not think about sin, he thought. There are enough problems now without sin. Also I have no understanding of it. --loc 903

Besides, he thought, everything kills everything else in some way. Fishing kills me exactly as it keeps me alive. --loc 914

Luck is a thing that comes in many forms and who can recognize her? I would take some though in any form and pay what they asked. --loc 1010

The wind is our friend, anyway, he thought. Then he added, sometimes. And the great sea with our friends and our enemies. And bed, he thought. Bed is my friend. Just bed, he thought. Bed will be a great thing. It is easy when you are beaten, he thought. I never knew how easy it was. And what beat you, he thought. --loc 1036

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