Monday, 7 April 2014

Thinking of Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea at 4am

I woke at 4am this morning. Since it's Spring I sleep with the curtains open. The moon is around the other side of the house but there's enough light from other sources to pick out the shape of the trees in the garden.
I must have laid there for almost an hour before falling back to sleep.
In that time I watched the light improve and the detail in the trees and larger shrubs increase. It was a magical time.
I could hear the rain but it did little to dampen my mood.

I thought of several things - most of which escape me now.
Notably I thought of the old man in Hemingway's novel The Old Man and the Sea. I've almost finished it and just now he's landed the Marlin and strapped it to the side of his skiff. The sharks are alert to the blood and as tired as the old man is he has the better of them.
I'll finish the story over a coffee on my break later. I care about that old man. I'd go so far as to say I feel for him. His every emotion, his hunger, his thirst, his desire and his need to land that mighty fish. I love the healthy respect he has for the fish. I love that he feels that the fish died with dignity. The "enemy below" was not so much the enemy as his brother.

The old man loves the sea. He respects her and all that live within her.
He is a long way from shore. His story is very much a tale of personal triumph against the odds. So far he is victorious. I hope that he succeeds and takes his rewards. A 1,500lb fish that will cut in to 1,000lb to sell at 30 cents a pound has significant value to the frail and destitute old man.

His companion, the young boy, is not with him. They have shared many a sea-faring adventure but not this one. For this one he is alone. The young boy must surely be eagerly awaiting the old man's return. He's not his son but the old man loves him as though he were his own and vice versa.

I've loved reading this story.
The main character is complex. He has a gentleness to him. A spiritual side and an extremely human side. His endearing love for Joe DiMaggio, the great Di Maggio, whom he admires so much is quite touching. That Di Maggio's father was himself a fisherman only strengthens his admiration for the legendary Yankee's baseball player.

Hemingway is a beautiful writer. His knowledge of his character and his subject is his strength.
I look forward to completing the story and moving on to another of his classics.

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