An old man named Santiago has been fishing for 84 days and has not caught a fish. He is fishing alone when he comes upon a huge marlin and rushes to hook him. He succeeds, but the marlin is too strong for him to pull up--he must wait until he loses strength. Will Santiago pursue the fish or give up? A wonderful book of morality, focusing on a few of Hemingway's universal themes--courage in the face of death, compassion for others, and respect for nature.
I loved the Biblical references that were in the book--the cuts in the old man's left hand, the blood running down his face. The Old Man and the Sea is very rich with figurative language such as "flag of permanent defeat" (my favorite, first paragraph). My favorite character in the book was the first marlin that was mentioned--the male marlin accompanied by his female mate.
The male always let the female feed first, and when a female was hooked by a fisherman, as she thrashed and fought to break free, the male stayed by her side and never left even as she was hauled into the skiff. As her body was thrown over the side of the boat, the male would leap out of the water to see her one last time before diving into the deep. The marlin's devotion captivated me.
With this book, you have to read between the lines. If you're familiar with the Bible, the references won't confuse you at all. Some of the metaphors used are simply superfluous, but the themes Hemingway dictates are undeniable. It's a very good and fast read if you want to learn some life lessons in one or two hours.