Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2012 11:10:51 PM
Throughout my young life, I was always affected very strongly by the pain and suffering I saw in life. I felt, and still do, as if I feel some emotions stronger than is normal. Even at the age of five or six, I remember sitting on my couch, thinking about life, and wondering if it was worth the problems it seemed to cause. Yet when I was in the 8th grade, I picked up a slim book off our bookshelf to read for a school project, “The Old Man and the Sea”, not knowing how it would help me overcome my fear of suffering and face the difficulties I would face later in life.
I began reading the book because I felt it would be an easy and quick read I could use for our in-class book report, yet quickly discovered it was anything but simple. The book was written in a way I was not used to; it was direct and serious, and told things the way they were. I was introduced to Santiago, a fisherman living in Cuba, who had felt throughout his life as though he was not lucky. Santiago sets out on a fishing trip, after not catching a single fish for eighty-four days, in hopes of redeeming himself. While out on the water, a great marlin bites on to his line, yet no matter how much Santiago tries, he cannot bring the fish in. The giant marlin instead ends up dragging the small boat for two whole days, yet Santiago holds on, even through the pain, onto his prize. As the fish slows, he determinedly pulls the fish onto the boat, and then heads home. Yet on the journey home, sharks begin to swirl around his boat, smelling the fish’s blood. Santiago tries to fight off as many as he can, yet eventually the fish gets devoured almost entirely. He finally makes his way home, still as unlucky as the times before.
This book did not miraculously change me, I still am deeply affected by the suffering in life, yet it did open my eyes. The novel uses Santiago and his great fish as a symbol of life and the struggles that all people face. It helped me come to terms with the facts of life, and to understand that hardships are going to happen. Santiago by no means had an easy life, and dealt with countless failures. Yet each of those times he went to sea and didn’t catch a single fish, he went back out. I had been used to reading the simple childish books that all seem to close with a happy ending, yet this novel displayed the true obstacles that all people must face at one time or another, and not to fear them, but to grab on to that fishing line with both hands and hold on tight.