Old Man And The Sea

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade November 2001

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Ernest Hemingway's style has endured criticism after criticism; his critics argue that his "limitations" weaken his works. The defenders of style believe these "limitations" should be praised for their power and meaning. Yes, the "limitations" should be defended, but the word "limitations" does not accurately describe Hemingway's style. The word "limitations" suggests a weakness in Hemingway, he is incapable of breaking through the walls. Incapable he was not. "Limitations" should be replaced with "conscious boundaries". He chose to remain within his stylistic lines in order to enhance meaning. Hemingway's conscious boundaries should be defended; they are deeply meaningful and the heart of his style. Robert Weeks' defends Hemingway but fails to aptly support his major premise. He succeeds in making Hemingway look like an unoriginal, repetitive writer.

In Weeks' introduction, he discusses an element of Hemingway's style in which his hero is unnoticed and his peers remain unaware of the struggle.

At the conclusion of The Old Man and the Sea, a group of tourists do not recognize the skeleton as a marlin, but as a shark. "I didn't know sharks had such handsome, beautifully formed tails." This absence of admiration exists in more than a few of Hemingway's novels. Weeks makes the mistake of bringing this fact up, worsens things as he says "Hemingway evokes again and again," continues the contradiction as he names the novels, and finishes the sequence by saying "he uses it to end five of his six novels." When I read that sentence, my first thoughts consist of Hemingway's lack of creativity. His thesis and supports contradict each other; one praises Hemingway for his genius while the other exposes a seemingly idiotic writer. Had Weeks only mentioned The Old Man and the Sea, his introduction might have retained his point of view, rather than having it seep out through his contradiction.

Hemingway's "conscious boundaries" do indeed provide meaning in his novels. I wish Weeks had the ability to defend Hemingway without supporting the opposite of his point of view.