What are the major strengths of the novel, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway?

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Old Man and the Sea (1952) came after the disappointment of Across the River and Into the Trees. It was an instant bestseller and revived Hemingway's literary reputation, leading to the award of the Pulitzer Prize and, the following year, the Nobel. One of the strenghts of the boo is the development of the main character, Santiago, who is less cynical and more open to life and to relationships with fellow humans than Hemingway's previous macho heroes. Another important quality of the book is that Santiago's pursuit of the biggest catch of his life reads equally well as an adventure novel and as a more allegorical tale. The Old Man and the Sea can thus be read as mere entertainment or as a more comlpex oeuvre where Santiago's struggle with the sea and the fish he wants to catch may serve as a commentary on human nature. Through Santiago, Hemingway depicts the pursuit of one's hopes and aspirations. The novella shows how the struggle to attain such dreams rather than their actual attainment is an integral part of a meaningful human existence.

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The Old Man and the Sea

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