What does Hemingway have in mind when he says he is on a quest for the "one true or perfect sentence"?I've been having trouble with this one question in my packet. "As a writer Hemingway is on a...

What does Hemingway have in mind when he says he is on a quest for the "one true or perfect sentence"?

I've been having trouble with this one question in my packet.

"As a writer Hemingway is on a quest for the "one true or perfect sentence." What do you think Hemingway has in mind when he says this? Consider his style of writing, his use of diction, and his syntax. Find an example of a sentence in "The Old Man and the Sea" that you think could qualify as a perfect sentence. Explain why, including references to style, diction, and syntax in your answer."

Overall, I really don't understand this question. If I could have help, that would be great! Thank you!

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think you might be making this a bit more difficult than it is, and I'm certain you could find a good example on your own.  Hemingway, especially in The Old Man and the Sea, is known for his relatively simple, straightforward writing style.  Unlike someone like, let's say, Nathaniel Hawthorne who uses lots of semi-colons and writes very long, complicated, descriptive sentences, Hemingway tends to create shorter, less complicated, less punctuated sentences.  His description isn't flowery or wordy; instead, it's concise and precise. With this in mind, I'm confident you can find an effective sentence. Once you do, consider the elements you were given:  diction (word choice), syntax (sentence structure), and style (an author's choices).    Consider the following:

He watched the flying fish burst out again and again and the ineffectual movements of the bird.

We have one strong verb (burst) and one strong adjective (ineffectual), yet we have a clear image of this scene.  The simple repetition of the word again draws a picture of a flying fish repeatedly soaring out of the ocean; and the word ineffectual connected to the bird's movements is indicative of a bird who is clumsily trying to catch something he has absolutely no chance of catching. 

Find a sentence you find particularly effective, and you can do this assignment quite well.  Good luck!

Read the study guide:
The Old Man and the Sea

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question