How do you feel about The Old Man and the Sea?
You're not going to receive a lot of negative feedback on a classic novel in the midst of a bunch of teachers. Here's my two cents: The story is a shorter read, which is good for classes. The plot does seem "elongated," mostly because Hemingway was trying to generate empathy for Santiago on the part of his readers. The best thing about this novel, perhaps, is the honest interaction between man and boy -- the conversations they have, the actions that they take toward one another, and the thoughts that each convey all make a very realistic depiction of the relationship between the two characters. I have found that classics I once dreaded in school take on a whole new life when they are read as an adult; The Old Man and the Sea is one of these.
I can see your point about finding the long narration of Santiago's struggle with the fish slightly boring in places, yet I agree with other editors in believing that this was a deliberate choice by Hemingway to indicate the length of the struggle and the perseverance necessary to continue it. However, to me, what stands out in this classic is the ending, when we see that Santiago has not relinquished his dreams and is determined to go back out to the sea and fish again, in spite of his massive failure. I think this is a model for all of us to not be crushed by the sufferings of the world that threaten to overwhelm us at times.
Sometimes, novels seem long and drawn out for a reason. Think of the pain and suffering, self-reflection, and dread that Santiago was experiencing while at sea. It was his own personal "hell" on earth, yet he was exhilarated at his success. By bringing that fish home--even in the condition it was in--it restored the community's faith in him as a fisherman and in himself as a man. The elongated time on the sea gave him the time he needed to search himself and discover his worth, his strength, and his dignity. Authors do this for a reason...look for it! :)
Santiago is one of my all time favorite characters. His determination, his ability to make a decision and stick with it no matter what. I fell in love with this old seaman. The way the story was written actually drew me in even more. I didn't feel the story drag at all and I can remember reading it on a Greyhound bus. I actually cried throughout the section where he fights with those sharks. I was exhausted when he finally made it to shore. I was proud of Santiago and wanted him to be proud of making it home, even if he didn't have much to show for his struggle.
I agree with all those above. And, if you found it a little boring and maybe tedious at times, imagine what it must have felt like for Santiago--alone, at sea with no land in sight, hungry, tired, wounded, feeling a little small up against this gigantic, strong fish. The reason it's short is because neither the old man nor the readers can take much more than what Hemingway gave us. I guess I'm willing to overlook the "boring" parts and be inspired by the perseverance and strength of Santiago.
This novel is a wonderful one. It is one of my favorites. It is short, too, so it does not take long to read. The main character is endearing and I always find myself engrossed in who he is and what motivates him. The greatest thing about this novel is the message that it conveys, which is that one should not give up on his or her dreams, despite the odds and despite not achieving those dreams over the course of time. The hope that comes out of the novel is touching.
I think the "elongated" nature of the plot is part of Hemingway's point. He wants the reader to feel the struggle Santiago faces as he is alone for days on the open sea struggling against the fish. He wants the reader to feel some of that same exhaustion when Santiago makes it back to show with little to show for his ordeal. Great literature helps the reader to feel what the characters feel!
My favorite aspect of the novel is the sense of dread that Hemingway conveys as Santiago attempts to bring the fish home. As the sharks bite off more and more of the marlin, it becomes clear that the old man is fighting a futile battle in attempting to ward the sharks off. This part of the novel moves at a faster clip than the rest of the book.