The Old Man and the Sea
About the Author
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and sportsman. His economical and understated style—which he termed the iceberg theory—had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his adventurous lifestyle and his public image brought him admiration from later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and he was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature. He published seven novels, six short-story collections, and two nonfiction works. Three of his novels, four short-story collections, and three nonfiction works were published posthumously. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature.
Hemingway was raised in Oak Park, Illinois. After high school, he was a reporter for a few months for The Kansas City Star before leaving for the Italian Front to enlist as an ambulance driver in World War I. In 1918, he was seriously wounded and returned home. His wartime experiences formed the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms (1929).
In 1921, he married Hadley Richardson, the first of four wives. They moved to Paris where he worked as a foreign correspondent and fell under the influence of the modernist writers and artists of the 1920s' "Lost Generation" expatriate community. Hemingway's debut novel The Sun Also Rises was published in 1926. He divorced Richardson in 1927, and married Pauline Pfeiffer. They divorced after he returned from the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), which he covered as a journalist and which was the basis for his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). Martha Gellhorn became his third wife in 1940. He and Gellhorn separated after he met Mary Welsh in London during World War II. Hemingway was present with Allied troops as a journalist at the Normandy landings and the liberation of Paris.
He maintained permanent residences in Key West, Florida (in the 1930s) and in Cuba (in the 1940s and 1950s). He almost died in 1954 after plane crashes on successive days, with injuries leaving him in pain and ill health for much of the rest of his life. In 1959, he bought a house in Ketchum, Idaho, where, in mid-1961, he committed suicide. (From Wikipedia)
The Old Man and the Sea (1952)
The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway's most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal -- a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream.
Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme of courage in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss.
Questions for the Old Man and the Sea
Both the man and the boy’s names, Santiago and Manolin, are rarely mentioned in the text. Why? What does this do to your reading experience?
What role does the sea play in The Old Man and the Sea? Do you consider the sea a character unto herself? Do you think of the sea as masculine or feminine?
There is quite a bit of symbolism as it relates to man’s struggle with the world. Did you notice the symbolism throughout? If so, how did you interpret it? If not, do you think that matters?
Hemmingway’s literature has two very prevalent themes: “the undefeated man” and “winner take nothing”. Do you see these themes in this novella? Where do you see contrary ideas?
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