Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reflections: The Old Man And The Sea

The Old Man and the Sea is a very simple yet powerful tale about an old, withered, Cuban fisherman, and his epic struggle with capturing a great Marlin. Santiago was known for his fishing skills and gigantic conquests, but he was going through a dry phase with no luck in snaring any fish. While his peers pitied him, branding him as old, rusty and unlucky, Santiago brushes off his failures and goes on to fight for his survival through sheer will and determination. He casts off the notion that luck plays an inherent role in one's success and sets out to give every inch of his very best - body, mind and soul, to prove himself. It only seems fair that a man of such undaunted determination should meet his match in the ocean.

The tale and the struggle between Santiago and the fish can be viewed as metaphors representing many facets of life. The sea and nature itself presents the unconquerable uncertainty in our lives that teaches our place in the vastness of the universe, the ambition to hook the biggest prized fish translates to some of the gargantuan materialistic ambitions we set off on, the battle itself represents our mind-numbing chase through life to acquire such possessions, while the will to succeed and to achieve a self-fulfilling experience symbolizes our inner, deeper spiritual quests. In the end, what matters is not the materialistic possessions of our chase, but the lessons learnt via the journey - knowledge, wisdom, humility and magnanimity. As the fisherman perseveres his battle, the kinds of questions he ruminates on are thought provoking; between him and the fish, who is the enemy? Is it justifiable to hunt down a magnificent fish just because it will feed a few lives and earn him money? Is his battle for survival or for self-preservation? Is it possible to elevate to a higher spiritual plane by demonstrating such courage and determination? The thoughts maybe rhetorical but it's amazing that Hemingway could weave in so many levels of metaphors and thoughts into a seemingly simple scenario.

The writing is very succinct and simple. Hemingway's brevity still brings vivid images of the fish's battle, the fisherman's relentless struggle, the greedy predators, the rickety boat and the raging waves.

This is surely an inspirational book on courage and unbridled determination. It reminds us that success, in it's true sense, is not defined by material conquests alone; for each of us to realize ourselves, our determination needs to be tested to its limits.

1 comment:

Frederick Guyton said...

I like this novel, it makes me believe in power of my mind! http://puressay.com/blog/the-old-man-and-the-sea-essay has some interesting facts of the Old man and Sea!