It is silly not to hope, he thought. Besides I believe it is a sin. Do not think about sin, he thought. There are enough problems now without sin. Also I have no understanding of it.— from The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway.
I have no understanding of it and I am not sure that I believe in it. Perhaps it was a sin to kill the fish. I suppose it was even though I did it to keep me alive and feed many people. But then everything is a sin. Do not think about sin. It is much too late for that and there are people who are paid to do it. Let them think about it. You were born to be a fisherman as the fish was born to be a fish. San Pedro was a fisherman as was the father of the great DiMaggio.
But he liked to think about all things that he was involved in and since there was nothing to read and he did not have a radio, he thought much and he kept on thinking about sin. You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. It you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?
"You think too much, old man," he said aloud.
I've been meaning to read The Old Man and the Sea for years — it's been packed with me on two trips to Cuba and several fishing excursions, but this week I finally read it. I'm not sure yet if I enjoyed this novella.
I almost didn't read it, because the beginning was so boring. I'm not sure what the point of all that preamble is. I would've started the story at sea, on the morning of his 85th fishless day, but what do I know, I'm no Max Perkins. And then Hemingway would've had to work the lions in another way.
Unsurprisingly, it reminded me of fishing. My ex took the bass boat when he left. Time changes on the water, and you become very attuned to the water, the birds, and all manner of things that indicate fish behaviour, but also to things that have nothing to do with fish. Sometimes I miss fishing.
Also, I was surprised by how graphic it was. I flinched often.
But ultimately it was very suspenseful and, of course, tragic. Is it ambition and pride that is the man's undoing? But he is not undone, he has proved himself to himself, no matter how meaningless the measure. It's an old man's coming of age story.