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Fishnwire

The Old Man and the Sea

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I recently re-read the old classic The Old Man and the Sea by Hemmingway. I have always liked that story ever since I was first forced to read it for high school english class. To anyone who hasn't read it, you may want to consider doing so. Its only about 100 pages long and a real easy, enjoyable read. It's a fishing story, so most OFNers would enjoy it. If you do think you might pick it up one day, you may wish to skip the rest of this thread, because I want to discuss an element of the story with those that have already read the book...consider this a spoiler alert.

 

 

 

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Anyway, the one thing about that story that has always bothered my is this; why didn't Santiago (the old man) use the knife which he had to cut off sections of the fish which he could hoist into the boat and keep away from the sharks? He couldn't have saved it all, but he could have saved some. His time and energy would have been better spent butchering the fish into manageable chunks than fighting sharks with a broken oar...am I right?

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Anyway, the one thing about that story that has always bothered my is this; why didn't Santiago (the old man) use the knife which he had to cut off sections of the fish which he could hoist into the boat and keep away from the sharks? He couldn't have saved it all, but he could have saved some. His time and energy would have been better spent butchering the fish into manageable chunks than fighting sharks with a broken oar...am I right?

 

There isn't any oar action until the knife is long gone.

 

The first shark hits and takes out forty pounds of meat. Santiago harpoons it, and it dies and sinks with the harpoon and all its rope. The knife is then lashed to an oar to make another weapon. Two hours later, more sharks come. His hands are in so much pain from a rope burn he can barely wield the homemade spear, but he manages to kill two more sharks. About a quarter of the meat is now gone. There is a lull (hard to really say how long) and the old man checks the lashing on the spear and wishes he had a stone to sharpen the knife point. Admittedly, he could've used this moment to hack up the fish, but would an exhausted, tired and dehydrated old fisherman in a rickety boat in shark infested waters with a "highway" sized blood trail in the water lean over the side to carve up his catch? The old man's thoughts indicate he might have considered this to be mutilating the fish, something which the sharks had already well started, and just the idea of that was too much for him to contemplate. He even starts to apologize to the fish for the mutilation. If he removes the knife from the spear and more sharks come, how does he defend the carcass? In any event, the pops was not a thinker, and probably not in his right mind: "What can I think of now? he thought. Nothing. I must think of nothing and wait for the next ones." A shovelnose shark comes along, is speared, and snaps off the knife in a death roll. His inventory at this point: a gaff, which he says will do no good, two oars, the tiller and a short club which turns out to be a sawed off oar handle. From here it's just more sharks and the old man using whatever wooden implements to club them off until he finally gives up. Goodbye meat.

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I really like that book.

Even better was that Hemingway loved to fish the St. Mary's Rapids!! How cool is that :D

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I have to reread this book. I read it in grade 6 and the part that sticks with me is drinking the fish blood for breakfast.

 

If you like Hemingway and fishing there is a great book called "Hemingway on Fishing". It is great read with all of Hemimgway's writing on fishing. Hemingway lived in Toronto in 1920 and worked as a correspondent and freelancer for the Toronto Star Weekly where he contributed many pieces on fishing including the Soo. This book would also make a great gift for your favourite fisherman. You can get it at Chapters for $25.

 

From the Publisher

Hemingway on Fishing is a full and diverse collection of some of the greatest writing by Nobel Peace Prize winner Ernest Hemingway on one of his favorite subjects-angling. Included in this gift edition are excerpts from A Moveable Feast, The Sun Also Rises, Green Hills of Africa, The Garden of Eden, Islands in the Stream and The Old Man and articles from the Toronto Star Daily, Esquire and Vogue.

 

· Hemingway on Fishing is a collection of the greatest literary works on the sport from one of the greatest writers of all time.

· An ideal book for collectors

· Includes a 32-page black and white insert

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Anyway, the one thing about that story that has always bothered my is this; why didn't Santiago (the old man) use the knife which he had to cut off sections of the fish which he could hoist into the boat and keep away from the sharks? He couldn't have saved it all, but he could have saved some. His time and energy would have been better spent butchering the fish into manageable chunks than fighting sharks with a broken oar...am I right?

 

If Papa Hemingway wrote it so the old fella carved and saved the meat, would it still be the same worthwhile read? What intensity, drama, or sense of urgency would there be?

 

The old man goes out to prove he still has it in him. The fish is both the proof of his manhood, and the folly of his pride when all he has left is the carcass. There is also the timeless Man vs. nature theme. At the end of the struggle you come away with nothing more than your hide. Much of what "Papa" wrote focuses on the intensity of the "Moment" and his lifestyle was rather similar.

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As a kid I would take fishing notes and tips and put them in a journal. I even signed out this library book Fishing For Kids over 20 times. I still have the book to prove ( some how aquired) it with the library card from school. The Old man and the Sea was my favorite all time movie at that time. Spenser Tracy was an awesome actor and I dont think he said two words to anybody. It was him and the fish alone that he was talking too. Great movie.

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Hemingway on Fishing is a full and diverse collection of some of the greatest writing by Nobel Peace Prize winner Ernest Hemingway on one of his favorite subjects-angling.

 

I wasn't aware of Hemmingway ever wining a Nobel peace prize. Pulitzer maybe eh? 1953?

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Still one of my favourite books ever.

 

 

Another good Hemingway read on fishing it the Big Two Hearted River (Parts I and II). Cool story about trout fishing in Michigans UP.

 

 

He could capture conversation and inner dialogue like few could.

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This thread reminds me of my wife asking why the young girls always open the door when Jason is waiting on the other side! :D

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I've always had a suspicion that Hemingway was writing allegory, not necessarily the Christian reference usually attributed to the book, rather a more mundane reference to life in general, the frustration we've all encountered at times, and in this case the life long frustration that a poor Cuban fisherman might have experienced. It's about the success, even glory, that dangles just out of reach for a lot of folks.

 

JF

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