The Old Man and the Sea Writing Analysis

“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”  (The Old Man and the Sea).  In the opening of The Old Man and the Sea Ernest Hemmingway immediately provides the mood, the setting, and the feel of the old man.  The feel of the fishing vessel, which is described as a skiff, provides the image of a tattered old row boat; the location of the character in the Gulf; the plight the character faces.  In one short sentence, Hemmingway captures the essence of his character and provides his readers the emotional longing his main character faces; eighty-four days without a catch; an old man who fishes alone.  The writing style provides the reader a descriptive imagery; as well as providing an emotive language to capture the essence of the story unfolding.  “The old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck.  The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks.” (The Old Man and the Sea).  Critics of Hemmingway’s writings have stated that his style of writing lacked in substance as he avoided direct statements and description of emotion. (  The Old Man and the Sea has been described as a story told in brief, concise sentences, occasionally punctuated with flourishes of language; the writing nearly clinical in how it portrays the events. ( This paper states Hemmingway’s writing in The Old Man and the Sea flourishes in his use of emotion and description; the writing puts the reader on the boat and enables the reader to feel the emotion, the joy, the sorrow, of the main character.  The rhetorical devices utilized throughout the story provide the emotion, fear, anger, excitement, and sympathy for Hemmingway’s main character, the old man named Santiago.  The emotional appeal and the descriptive imagery that Hemmingway exudes throughout the story is what cause the reader to identify with the writer’s perspective.

Throughout the story of The Old Man and the Sea, Hemmingway expresses clearly his writing and sentence pattern as being emotive and descriptive.  In several passages throughout the story, the reader is placed in the skiff with Santiago as he speaks to himself.  “If others heard me talking out loud they would think that I am crazy.” (The Old Man and the Sea).  This style forces the forces the reader to feel the emotions portrayed on the main character.  Hemmingway uses several emotional ploys in his writing to enable the reader to feel what Santiago is feeling.  When Hemmingway introduces the fish that Santiago baits, he does not introduce the fish as merely a fish, but instead introduces the fish as a character.  An example of the emotional tie the character of Santiago has with the character of the fish is when Santiago continues to speak out loud to himself as he wrestles with trying the catch the fish: “The fish is my friend too.  I have never seen or heard of such a fish.  But I must kill him.” (The Old Man and the Sea). The writing and the emotive language provides the respect and admiration the characters have for each other, but knowing only one will survive. 

Hemmingway’s writing in The Old Man and the Sea effectively uses an emotive writing style, as well as using strong description and imagery.  Hemmingway provides the emotional sense of plight Santiago faces of eighty-four days without a catch, as well as his plights throughout the story in his battle with the fish and his journey home with the fish.  His ability to put the reader in the skiff with Santiago as he wanders the sea looking for his catch preys on the reader’s emotions and as being one with Santiago.  Hemmingway’s writing style and sentence structure allows the reader a sense of knowing what was within the character of Santiago.  As a reader of Hemmingway, and admirer of The Old Man and the Sea, his writing style provides me the emotional tie to the characters, and the feel of knowing them intimately.  The description and imagery Hemmingway places in his writing provides the reader a sense of fully knowing and comprehending not only the characters, but the setting, the mood, and the feel.


Works Cited:

Hemingway, Ernest.  The Old Man and the Sea.  (1952): 1-10, 38-41 99-105.  Print

Cooper, Michael.  “The Writing Style of Hemingway”.  Ezine Articles.  2 September 2005. Web.  7 May 2013.

“The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway’s Writing Style”.  GoodReads.  31 August 2012.  Web.  7 May 2013. Loaded Language. 14 April 2013. Web.  7 May 2013

%d bloggers like this: