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The most fascinating aspect of Hemingway's "Old Man and the Sea" is that it is timeless. Yes, it can be read on the story level, but if you do only that you're missing the point. I truly believe that Hemingway meant this to be a sort of fable.

The plot is nothing much: Santiago is an old fisherman who has had no luck recently. He is shunned by his village and even the small boy who is supposed to accompany him is taken away. He's completely alone when he decides to go out into the Gulf.

When he does land a fish, it is the struggle of his life. While he has the fish online we're privy to his inner thoughts, and most of all, his conflicts. He wants to catch the fish and puts up the fight of his life, but the fish is also fighting and part of Santiago respects this, and part of him wants the fish to win.


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The story on a much deeper level is about two things in my mind: Man's struggle with his environment, and man's struggle with himself. The conflict of emotions within Santiago are in a way even more heartbreaking than those between himself and the village that has so shunned him, for the conflict within a person is all his--all that one person's problems.

Some have seen Santiago as a Christ-like figure, and I suppose this is possible, but if you want to take it to that level you're probably carrying it further than Hemingway meant, though we can't know that for sure.

I like Hemingway's books, but some of them seem colorless at times. This one, "The Old Man and the Sea" seems timeless and is the best thing he ever produced. It IS a classic in so many senses. I don't think anyone realized that this book would stand the test of time when it first appeared.