The short novel “The Old Man and the Sea” was written by the American author Ernest Hemingway in 1951. He is considered as one of the most significant contemporary US writers. In 1953 The Old Man and the Sea was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and in 1954 the Nobel Prize in Literature. Many consider this spare novel to be Hemingway’s best work.
An episode from the life of a simple Cuban fisherman has become a world masterpiece, a parable of inspiration, strength and invincibility of the human spirit and life struggle.
The novel is closely connected with all the previous writings of the writer and is the culmination of his reflection on the meaning of life.
Hemingway has been creating this story for a long time, painstakingly writing out every episode, every reflection and observation of his lyrical hero. The main characters of this novel are the old man Santiago and the boy Manolin. Their friendship throughout the whole book grows stronger.
Santiago and Manolin’s relationship was more like that between a mentor and the person he is training.
Manolin, is mostly referred to as ”the boy”, is a close friend as well as an assistant of the old man, Santiago. The old man took him to his boat when the boy barely turned 5 years old. The love and care Manolin has is a significant part of his character. Manolin demonstrates his love for Santiago openly. He also wishes to learn how to become a good fisherman, to understand all the subtleties and art of fishing.
He has been helping Santiago on his fishing boat for a long time. However, after Santiago went forty days without catching any fish, Manolin’s parents moved him to a different fishing boat that had better luck. The boy did not want to leave the old man, but he is obedient and followed his parents’ instructions. Despite this, he believes in the old man’s fishing abilities and enjoys his company. He takes care of the old man, visits him frequently and brings him coffee, provides him food, and helps him with his fishing gear. He helps him and serves him like a son. When they spend time together, Santiago and the boy talk mostly about fishing, hunting, American baseball, and one of the old man’s heroes, Joe DiMaggio, the great Yankee outfielder. He is a companion for the old man, who feels love and frank enthusiasm for his teacher. His image helps to highlight the values of Santiago as human being and fisherman.
Manolin is involved in the action only in the first several pages and in the last few pages of the story. He is an important character in this novel, though he does not play an active part in the adventure of the old man. The image of Santiago in relation to Manolin can also be interpreted as an image of Christ and his disciple.
The presence of the boy means that the main hero is not alone. He is the constant reminder of youth age, courage, and bravery for the old man. Manolin is a prominent figure in the old man’s life. We see this in particular during the large portion of the book when the old man is out at sea by himself. Although Manolin is not physically with him Santiago thinks about him constantly, and often wishes he were there or refers to what the boy would be doing if he were present.
On the last pages of the story, the boy acts as a symbol of immutable love and devotion. Santiago wouldn’t survive without his friend’s Manolin support. When Santiago returns to the village Manolino does not leave a fisherman alone. The boy sits near him while he sleeps waiting patiently for new stories from the old man. Manolin is the reader’s surrogate in the novel, appreciating Santiago’s heroic spirit and skill despite his outward lack of success.
I would definitely recommend this novel for people to read. This philosophical story is about the human strength and true friendship. The book also shows that people need others to support them in difficult moments. Hemingway captures readers with simple human emotion and reels them in with majesty of something much larger and much more complex. This is a masterpiece everyone needs to read. Everyone will find something valuable and instructive in this story.