Ernest Hemingway Essay Research Paper Chris Ivie

Ernest Hemingway Essay, Research Paper Chris Ivie American Literature Dr. Breeden 10/2/96 Many of Ernest Hemingway’s books have had different meaning and all could be interpreted in

Ernest Hemingway Essay, Research Paper

Chris Ivie

American Literature

Dr. Breeden


Many of Ernest Hemingway’s books have had different meaning and all could be interpreted in

different way, but there has never been so much written about his other stories. Well the Old Man and the

Sea had more written about it than any of his other novels and there have never been so many different

types of interpretations about his other novels. The Old Man and the Sea is a book in which can be

interpreted in many different ways. Here you will read what many critics have composed about the story

of a great writer, Ernest Hemingway. Many of the critics have the same outlook on the works of

Hemingway. Hemingway’s work The Old man and the Sea can be looked at in many different

perspectives. All the critics believed that his styling of writing was very defined.

In 1944 Ernest Hemingway went to Havana, Cuba and it was there he wrote a letter to Maxwell

Perkins which states he has a idea on a new novel called The Old Man and the Sea ( Nelson and Jones

139). Hemingway first got his idea for The Old Man and the Sea from the stories that he had heard in the

small fish cities in Cuba by a man named Carlos Gutierrez. He had known of this man for about twenty

years and the stories of the fighting marlins. It was then that he imagined that man under the two

circumstances and came up with the idea. After about twenty years of pondering on the story , he decided

that he would start on the novel of The Old Man and the Sea. The story The Old Man and the Sea is

about a old man named Santiago who has to over come the great forces of nature. Things seem to always

go wrong for him because originally he started out going to fish for some dinner, then he caught the

biggest marlin ever and it pulled him out in the bay of Cuba even more then he was. After he was pulled

out, he hurt his hands and couldn’t risk going to sleep because of the risk of sharks. When the sharks

finally attacked he lost the marlin which had become a great part of him because he knew that no one

would believe him when he told them the size of the marlin. This has to be one of the most memorable

fights in a novel that I have ever seen, but I think that the way he put the novel together was just as good

as that of the fight.

When he put them together it was then that he relized that what he was actually writing about

was a struggle of man vs. nature. He liked the idea of man vs. nature and decided to use it in the struggle

scene with the marlin. Magill wrote,” the book can be seen as a fable of the unconquerable spirit of man,

a creature capable of snatching spiritual victories from the circumstances of disaster and material defeat”

(Magill 4325). Also it is said,” the conflict is of the strength of a ordinary man and the power of

nature”(Magill 4325). I feel that Santiago plays a large role in the novel by being able not to give in and

prove to the element of nature that he would over come them in the long run.

Magill wrote,” The Old Man and the Sea is a direct descendant of Moby Dick”(Magill 4326).

He feels that the struggle between Santiago and the marlin is very much like that of the whale and the

captain in Moby Dick. The similarities between The Old Man and the Sea and Moby Dick are extremely

noticeable after reading both of the stories back to back, but there are differences in the story line. The

main difference is that Santiago never comes out with anything unlike the captain in Moby Dick.

Santiago was left with just a broken boat, a bad fishing pole, and the misery of defeat.

The story could also be interpreted as being religious because of the struggle that Santiago was

put though. Also it is felt by some people to be religious because of the way he only cut his palms( from

the rope), his feet( on the front of the boat) and his head(when the bow hit him in the head). It is often

portrayed as that of Jesus on the cross. I don’t know if I really agree with this interpretation of it being

religious. The reason I don’t agree with this is because if everytime someone got cut on the hands and feet

in a movie or book then I guess that they too resemble that of Jesus on the cross.

This story has many different interpretations to it, but would the interpretations be if the story

contained everyone from the village in it and sowed how the were raised, born, educated, and bore

children. This story could have been well over a thousand pages if the above were included (Plimpton

125). The big question that I ask is though, if all the above were included in the novel, how different do

you think that the interpretation would be? I feel that the interpretations would be so very different

because the whole story be circled around that of the battle between Santiago and the marlin. Also, I

believe that the religious interpretations would be not as strong because of dealing more with the life of

the city people and that of Santiago.

Hemingway is a writer who creates things out of his head. If he wasn’t a genius then how come

did he win a Pulitzer Pride for the story The Old Man and the Sea Hemingway states,” I knew two or three

things about the situation, but I didn’t know the story” ” I didn’t even know if that big fish was going to

bite for the old man when it started smelling around the bait. I had to write on inventing out of

knowledge. You reject everything that is not or can’t be completely true.”(Bruccoli 179) I think that

Hemingway is a genius for writing this novel because in my point of view it shows the battle between

human and nature and that really caught my attention rereading this novel for the third time. I also

caught the moral of the story in my point of view, and that is not everything good that you have is always

going to be there. To me that means alot because that moral also refers alot about your family as well as


Hemingway is looked upon as one of the greatest writers to ever set foot on this earth in the

twentieth century. He is a writer who is know for leaving very little left unsaid or leave you wondering,

for example, what’s going to happen, is he gonna die or not. As you could see in this novel he got to the

point in a direct manner without leaving anything unsaid and he definitely didn’t leave you thinking about

if Santiago was going to live or not.

Many people do not like the writings of Ernest Hemingway because they feel most everything

that he writes about is unhappy or make believe. Fredrick Busch said at one point in time ,” He didn’t

want to read that of which was unhappy or make believe” referring to Hemingway’s work (Bryfonski

130). Many have said to believe that The Old Man and the Sea

was written about the life of Ernest Hemingway, which in reality it was written about a Cuban by the

name of Carlos Gutierrez. However some of the parts in this story do relate to things Hemingway has


In conclusion, The Old Man and the Sea can be interpreted in many different forms, but I think

it isn’t how you interpret it. Don’t get me wrong some people like to read to see how many ways you can

interpret it but , you should read a novel to learn from others mistakes and also for the pleasure of

expanding you knowledge American and English literature. I could name many different books in which

I have read that have actually left a impact on my life in some sort or another.


Bruccoli, Matthew J. Conversations with Ernest Hemingway.

Mississippi: UP Mississippi, 1986

Bryfonski, Dedria. Contemporary Authors. Michigan: Bok Towers,1984

Magill,Frank M. Masterplots. 8 vols., New Jersey: Salem Press,1976

Nelson, Gerald B., and Glory Jones.

Hemingway: Life and Works. New York: Facts on File Publications,1984

Wagner, Linda W. Ernest Hemingway, Five Decades of Criticism .

Michigan: Michigan State UP, 1974

Wagner, Linda W. Ernest Hemingway, Six Decades of Criticism.

Michigan: Michigan State UP, 1982