The Character of a Man: Style in Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and the Sea’

April 28, 2022 by Essay Writer

Earnest Hemingway is broadly considered as one of the widely renowned stylists in contemporary American literature. Characterized by brief, simple sentences with few adjectives, great use of repetition, and colloquial language, his style additionally avoids emotionalism, and is evolved significantly through brilliant the use of understatement (Britannica). The effect of his terse, disciplined technique to the craft of writing makes him one of the most dramatic writers of the twentieth century. Hemingway’s novella, “The Old Man and the Sea” demonstrates his ironic and stylistic technique and deals with the topic of narrating profound ethical challenges.

Hemingway describes his own method to his style in The Old Man and the Sea in an interview as one which relies upon on near observation; that is: the whole lot he sees is going into the super reserve of things he knows or has experienced in his life. If it’s far any use to comprehend it, I continually try and write at the principle of the iceberg; there’s seven-eighths of it underwater for every component that shows. Anything you know you can eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg. It is the part that doesn’t show. Therefore, a reader need to remember the fact that a great deal of information and revel in informs Hemingway’s narrative, and that the simplicity of his approach to language is deceptive. On the surface, the plot of the story appears to be trustworthy, and tells the tale of a Cuban fisherman named Santiago and his 3-day war to land a large Marlin only to unluckily lose his trophy to sharks on his adventure back to shore. It’s far told from the point of view of an omniscient narrator that lets in the reader to participate in and feel Santiago’s struggle to understand the means of his existence through his warfare with a fish.

For example: Then he started to pity the exquisite fish that he had hooked. He is terrific and odd and who knows how old he may be, he imagined. In no way have I had any such robust fish nor one who acted so unusually. Perhaps he is too smart to jump. He ought to wreck me by jumping or through a wild rush. However, possibly he has been hooked a lot before and he is aware of that this is how he must make his combat. He can’t possibly recognize that it is only one man against him, nor that it’s a way old man. However what a first rate fish he is and what is he going to fetch in the marketplace if the flesh is good. He took the bait like a male and he pulls like a male and his combat has no panic in it. I wonder if he has any plans or if he is just as desperate as I am. (48-49) This passage illustrates the simple sentence structure expected of Hemingway in addition to the parallel shape within the phraseology, in particular in the repetition of such phrases ‘hooked’, ‘bizarre’, ‘combat’, and ‘fish’. Moreover, through utilizing alliteration, he reinforces the parallelism.

In suggesting pity for the fish, and by using characterizing the fish as male, Hemingway also presents a glimpse of his subject and creates a structural identification between Santiago and his catch. He suggests that guy and fish are each locked in a determined and desperate war to survive; however, the desperation and violence of the acute conflict is masked by using the use understatement. The shortage of emotionalism contributes to the dramatic anxiety within the internal monologue.The emphasis on the masculine nature of the dramatic scenario is likewise critical to information Hemingway’s unemotional fashion on the subject of his theme. “His overriding subject matter is honour, non-public honour: by what shall a man live, by what shall a man die, in a world the essential condition of whose being is violence?’ (Poetry foundation). Hemingway is inquisitive about representing a person’s world in direct conflict with nature: “Fish, “he stated, “I really like you and appreciate you very a lot but I will kill you lifeless earlier than this day ends “(fifty four). Santiago’s moral war is similarly evolved when he reflects on the question of the distinction among human and non-human relationships. For example, Hemingway writes:

It isn’t stupid not to wish, he thinks. Except I agree with its far a sin. Do not consider sin, he thought to himself. There are sufficient problems now without sin. I don’t even have any information of it. I have no expertise of it and I’m now not sure that I trust in it. Possibly it became a sin to kill the fish. I assume it’s a sin despite the fact that I did it to hold me alive and feed many humans. However then the whole lot is a sin. Do not reflect on consideration on sin. It’s way too late for that and there are folks who are paid to do it. Let me consider it. You had been born to be a fisherman because the fish turned into born to be a fish. San Pedro was a fisherman as turned into the daddy of the outstanding DiMaggio. (104-105)

Contained inside the simple sentence shape and the naive formulations of religious debate is an important ethical query that Santiago cannot yield a solution: how can one value and admire nature and need to kill it at the same time? Hemingway again uses an inner monologue with a view to create ironic juxtaposition; the reader is compelled to consider sin and query assumptions approximately the superiority of man over beast. Santiago’s way to his mind about the morality of killing his fish is deeply fatalistic, and connects to Hemingway’s know-how of the importance of appreciating the splendor and power of nature. By using parallel shape, he suggests a pattern that defines the essence of a fisherman in Santiago’s society. In different phrases, Santiago, St. Peter and Joe DiMaggio’s father were all fishermen, and that equivalence creates an order inside the world that may be understood as an illustration of stability.

Hemingway’s description of Santiago’s reaction to the loss of his marlin also is usual of his fashion: He knew he was beaten now finally and without remedy and went back to the stern and found the jagged end of the tiller would fit in the slot of the rudder well enough for him to steer. He settled the sack around his shoulders and put the skiff on her course. He sailed lightly now and he had no thoughts nor any feelings of any kind. He was past everything now and he sailed the skiff to make his home port as well and as intelligently as he could. In the night sharks hit the carcass as someone

might pick up crumbs from the table. The old man paid no attention to them and did not pay any attention to anything but steering. He best noticed how lightly and the way well the skiff sailed now there has been no superb weight beside her (119).

This passage exemplifies Hemingway’s mistrust of using emotion as a rhetorical device. The warfare is lost; the war is over. But, Santiago has survived, he has continued. Hemingway believed strongly that to undergo extreme struggling and suffering brings meaning to life. Santiago is now completely exhausted and the strong alliteration of ‘s’ sounds reinforces the readers experience of the scale of the fisherman’s loss. The style of The Old Man and the Sea is fashioned through the idea of a hero who now, after paying so much interest to capturing his fish, can now pay interest to nothing. He is now a man, “who is defeated but finds a remnant of dignity in an honest confrontation of defeat”.

Eventually, Hemingway’s style may be characterized as one that relies upon a misleading simplicity of phrase choice and sentence shape, the regular use of repetition, parallelism and alliteration, massive use of internal monologue and planned repression of emotion. The stylistic effect results in growing a portrait of the theme of the extraordinarily irony of a man’s conflict towards himself and nature. The big existential conflict is scaled all the way down to Santiago’s 3 day encounter with forces greater and more powerful than he can handle. In his capacity to endure, Santiago experiences become a narrative that shows the inevitability of defeat and the serenity he gains through its acceptance.


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