The Old Man and the Sea

Welcome back, my dear readers! Today’s review is an older pick from Ernest Hemingway, a classic author well known for his award-winning novels.

The Old Man and the Sea is Hemingway’s last novel, winning both the Pulitzer Prize in May 1953 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Because this novel is very much in the vein of the literature I wrote about during my degree, this review will read much more like a spoiler-free essay.

The Old Man and the Sea gives readers the classic story of man versus nature through the point of view of an old fisherman named Santiago. At the beginning of the story, Santiago and the boy who helps him sometimes, Manolin, are talking about Santiago being “salao”: the worst kind of unluckiness. Santiago hasn’t caught a fish in 84 days, and Manolin is becoming worried about him. Though he offers his help, Santiago says no and sets forth the next day prepared to end his streak of unluckiness.

After a good amount of time, Santiago feels one of his lines pull. On the other end: a giant marlin, hell-bent on survival. As they struggle against each other, the themes become clear in this story. Not only is this a story of Santiago versus the marlin, but a story of survival itself. Each one fights hard to win, but not for victory. Santiago, alone with his thoughts, struggles with that victory until he reaches the inevitable conclusion: he must win so he can live. In this, he sees a brotherly connection to this giant marlin who is straining against him.

I enjoyed this book. I’ve read a couple of Hemingway’s stories before, and I have found them to be easier literary reads than many other authors in the same period. Though there are strange quirks about the most relevant sport of the time and place, the inner monologues and quick plots make it a quick read.

In introductory writing classes, you will often hear the professors talk about different conflicts: man vs self, man vs man, man vs nature, and perhaps a couple of others. These are basic conflicts that many plots are boiled down to and therefore built up from. The Old Man and the Sea is the perfect book to read if you are looking for an example of man vs nature. It simplifies the conflict down to one man and one fish, and the inner monologue that we get from Santiago makes it easy to understand what runs through a person’s head in a struggle like that.

I would recommend this book to literature readers, those looking for a quick dip into literature, or writers looking to study some basic concepts. Many people have a problem with literature having too much racism or sexism because of the period they were written in, but this novel had neither of those. Even if it did, it wasn’t ever blatant. I recommend checking out this novel and other novels by Hemingway, including The Sun Also Rises.

Drop a comment below or on my Instagram (@litandleta) telling me what your favourite literary read is!

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5

Information on The Old Man and the Sea found on Wikipedia at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: