The Old Man and the Sea
Hemingway's writing style owes much to his career as a journalist. His use of language — so different from that of, say, his contemporary William Faulkner — is immediately identifiable by most readers. Short words, straightforward sentence structures, vivid descriptions, and factual details combine to create an almost transparent medium forhis engaging and realistic stories. Yet without calling attentionto itself, the language also resonates with complex emotions and larger and larger meanings — displaying the writer's skill in his use of such subtle techniques as sophisticated patterns; repeated images, allusions, and themes; repeated sounds, rhythms, words, and sentence structures; indirect revelation of historical fact; and blended narrative modes.
In The Old Man and the Sea , nearly every wordand phrase points to Hemingway's Santiago-like dedication to craft and devotion to precision. Hemingway himself claimed that he wrote on the "principle of the iceberg," meaning that "seven-eighths" of the story lay below the surface parts that show. While the writing in The Old Man and the Sea reflects Hemingway's efforts to pare down language and convey as much as possible in as few words as possible, the novella's meanings resonate on a larger and larger scale. The story's brevity, ostensibly simple plot, and distance from much of this period's political affairs all lend the novella a simplistic quality that is as deceptive as it is endearing.
For example, Hemingway conveys one of the novella's central themes by repeatedly yoking religious conviction witha belief in luck. These repeated images and allusions, juxtaposed so often, suggest morethan an appropriate sketch of Cuba's Catholic culture, affection for games of chance, and passion for baseball. Both religion and luck rely on ritual and have the power to engender the hope, dreams, faith, absorption, and resolution that ultimately take people beyond...