I am accustomed to be regarded to have understood novels in a totally wrong way, according to the teacher of my foreign literature course, so I have to read some comments and analysis of this masterpiece before I write anything about it, which aims to avoid any blasphemy.
I shall firstly summarize the whole story: an old man had not harvest one fish for 84 days and still carried on without giving in to the bad luck or, fate. In the 85th day, he captured a gigantic marlin which weighed 1500 pounds, but had not killed it until 2 days later. On the way home, he was rubbered by sharks and struggled to kill them. When he came back home, his trophy has run out.
Technically, I am not qualified or well-acknowledged to comment on the novel. And I think the goal of finishing the task is not to appreciate the novel in the aspect of literature, though the description of the fighting scene and the old man’s talking to himself is realistic and vivid, and the character is stereoscopic, which is a aggregate of a loser and a hero. The former means the result of coming back home without any fish to sell, however, we cannot say he is an absolutely loser because he fought for survival, which wins respect from the neighbor, and what is interesting is that the whole “neighbor” is a group of the so-called tough guys, including the main character. So, the novel seems to be publicizing the value of being optimistic, and always ready to fight against the destiny that is against your will. Spiritually, it is full of the will to make a breakthrough and enterprise. The author is a tough guy, too. Only has one experienced the junction between life and death can they understand what life truly is and turn it into the form of words. Yet as far as I am concerned, he went to Spain which was suffering its civil war, as a reporter.
Then I shall talk about the main character, Santiago, the “old man”. Many say that he is a reflection of the author himself: they are both tough, not likely to yield to anything, anyone, including the unknown, unpredictable “fate”; they are ready at any time to jump up and fight against what is not obedient to him; and they are both, old.
Let us face the truth. Warriors in the ancient Rome or Sparta would die of glory and the so-called fame in history. They fight, and die during the war or wrestling. The faster you dash, the severer you may fall down. We appreciate the spirit of dashing in the nation of USA, but when it comes to Don Quixote, we would laugh for his bull-like behavior. And the author, Ernest Miller Hemingway, killed himself in the definite hopelessness. How can I go on and on just because the he wrote one exciting novel but killed himself? Even the great explorer Freddie Mercury, who is the lead singer of the legendary rock band Queen, has once written the lyrics “I am just a singer with a song, how can I try to right the wrong” “I am caught in between with the fading dreams”. He ended his spectacular life at the age of 45, dying of AIDS. So many pitiable facts lie here, and how can we believe that we should carry on?
Then it comes to the question that which you like better, the magnificent, but shorter life or the flat, but longer life. I dare not make an immediate answer right now. But a life with too much barriers would not be a good choice for me, I would be too tired, or be too weak to fight those enemies. And let those explorers explore lives for me. I would be happy to see their shiny fruits. That is not to say I would live a mediocre life with no waves. I will try to keep my life at a rising status. At least in the aspect of study and work. It is hard, but failure does not feel good.
Then let us come back to the novel itself. The writer applies his famous Principle of the ice burg. What we see is the ice burg above the sea level, but the gorgeous view lies beneath the surface. Through the “flat” words of the novel we may fall asleep, but when exploring the meanings behind those words, we may be stunned by the scale of the great scene, and admire the great wisdom of the writer, astonished at the strong power of words, of literature. It might be a wind vane for me to research the deep meaning behind the simple words, no matter in Chinese or English.