Synopsis "The Oldman and the Sea" by Earnest Hemingway

The old man and the sea is a novel of human determination, struggle, and sufferings at the hands of natural calamities. It is a very interesting and thought-provoking novel, which presents a deep theme of optimism and natural powers of man against the odds of life.

An old man, named Santiago lived in a shack, Havana, the capital of Cuba, in Mexico. There were a bed, a table, and a chair. There were pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Virgin of Cobre on the walls. There was also a picture of his wife that he had put on the shelf because it made him sad.  He used to fish in the Gulf Stream in his skiff. He had gone eighty-four days without a fish and people of the area had begun to call him a “Salao” which was the worst form of “Unlucky’. In the first forty days, a boy had been with him; after the eighty-four days without a fish, the parents of the boy had ordered him to leave the boat and join another one. The boy had to obey their orders and joined a boat, which caught three big fish in the first week, but the boy was not interested because he loved the old man and had been fishing with him since childhood and did not want to stay away from him. It made the boy sad to see the old man coming each day without a fish and he always helped the old man carry the fishing tool home.
Both the boy and the old man were heavily fond of baseball. The boy played this game when he had time but the old man could not as he had other things to do; he read the newspaper to keep updated about the baseball competitions. It was the eighty-fifth day when the old man was leaving his shack in the early morning to possibly hook some thing great. The boy went along to see the old man off at the sea. Both the fisherman had  some coffee at the restaurant. The old man started off and the boy wished him good luck.
It was too early in the morning when he went to sea. There were other fishermen along the shore or around it; but he knew that he was going far away. He put his lines in the waters and thought that unlike other fishermen, he always put the lines with great precision, only he had no luck; he thought that he should be ready because no one knew when luck
When the sun had risen, he saw a bird circling over the water of the sea. He knew that the presence of the bird meant fish. He also talked to the bird, which had landed at his skiff because of the strong wind. He felt sorry for the bird and all the delicate creatures in or over the ocean. The fishermen always thought it crazy to talk alone one the sea aimlessly; but the old man thought that the rich had radios to listen to baseball or the newspaper to read. He frequently talked alone on the sea and thought that since he was not crazy, he did not mind it.
He saw one of the lines dipping. A marlin, at 600 feet, was eating the great sardines. The old man hooked the marlin very easily; but the marlin started pulling the old man’s skiff in one direction and the old man desperately became a towing bit. All the sea objects were his companions, even the marlin was his friend; but the old man repeatedly said, “I wish the boy were here.” because, at that critical time, only the boy could be his sole assistant.
Soon it got dark and the old man felt cold. He shifted the line across his shoulder, leaned against the bow and felt comfortable. He recollected a lot of things such as baseball, the boy and he also wished that he had a radio. He also prayed and promised to perform pilgrimage that he might catch the fish and he began hailing Fathers and Mary’s. He had to fight the rain, loneliness, the fear of uncertainty and his physical weaknesses. Thus, he passed the whole night in distress and discomfort.
It was his second day on the sea and he was totally dependant of the fish which was towing him onto the sea in one direction. The old man pitied the fish and was busy adjusting the lines and burden of the fish on his shoulders. He hand was badly hurt and bleeding. Just a few moments later, he saw the great fish bulging out of the sea. The fish was bigger than his skiff by two feet. The old man was left astonished to see it. The fish rose to show it full-length, then went back into the sea, and again started traveling into one direction. It was a great fish and he had never seen one such in his life. The old man had caught a dolphin and he ate a part of it to give himself strength and wondered why the fish had jumped and He said to himself, “Perhaps to show how fish he was.” It was dark now and he wanted to have some rest so that he might not suffer from blackness in the head. His left hand had got cramped and he abused it much and called it a traitor. He leaned over the bow and fell asleep. No sooner did he sleep than he began dreaming of his great hand fight with the Negro. The fight had lasted for long time and the old man won the fight and was called “The Champion”. At this a pleasant smile sprang on his face. He said, “ I feel confident . My left hand is all right. Fish! Bad news for you.”
It was his third day and the sun had risen when he was woken up by a sudden jerk. The fish was rising and the old man began to draw it closer and closer. When the fish was at a proper distance from the skiff, he held the line under his foot, picked up his harpoon and drove it right into his eye so that it pierced his heart. The fished jumped in the air and fell into the sea with a great splash. In an instant, it was dead. Now the old man lashed the fish to the side of the skiff and started way back home. The fish made a trail of blood in the sea because it was bleeding. He guessed the fish to be over 1500 pounds and was very happy about it.
It was two hours when the first shark – Mako hit the marlin. He took a great portion of the fish. The old man targeted the fish with his harpoon. The shark went down into the water trembling with the old man’s harpoon in his belly as well as the fine line, which had to be cut. Now the fish was heavily bleeding which made a highway of blood on the surface of the sea to invite other sharks. The old man knew that bad time was coming so he tied his knife to the end of the oar and made a new weapon.
After some time two more sharks attacked the marlin. The old man fought bravely and killed both of them. He then killed another attacking shark. In this fight, his knife blade was broken and a major part of the fish had been destroyed. He felt sorry for the great fish because he had gone too far. He was tired and beaten by this exercise.
He had lost all his weapons; but his hope, struggle and determination were still with him. He used his club to kill two more sharks by hitting hard on their heads. It was night and a group of sharks attacked the marlin. The old man, desperately, fought against them. He club was taken away by a shark and he also used his tiller for fighting; but to no avail. When the sharks moved away, they left behind them a skeleton of the great fish, which was no more attractive, and beautiful. The old man had been beaten and the whole fish had been eaten by the sharks. The old man was thinking of his home now. When he reached the shore, he put the sail on his shoulder and walked to his shack. He had to sit many times on his way. The boy had been visiting the old man’s shack in his absence. This morning when he came to see the old man, he found him on his bed with his hands bleeding. He ran down to the terrace to bring him some coffee. He was all the while weeping. The boy gave him coffee and told him that he could go with him. The old man told him the story of his miseries and calamities. The boy sympathized with him. Both of them were determined to once again go to the sea to try their luck. When the boy left the shack, the old man was in his bed dreaming of lions. 
This is a great story of human struggle, endurance and determination. Hemingway has used a number of themes in this novel; but the most prominent one is, “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” The central idea of the novel is that man is not made for defeat. He has unlimited powers of endurance and struggle that nothing in the world can suppress his passions.

Select Literary Terms for BA Students

1.      What is Poetry? Poetry is a spontaneous and powerful overflow of human feelings.

2.      Drama (Play)  (GR. Deed, action, play) the form of literature intended to be performed usually in some kind of theater. Drama comes to life when it is interpreted in the performance of actors who adopt the roles of characters and speak the dialogues.

3.      Farce A kind of drama intended primarily to provoke laughter, using exaggerated characters and complicated plots, full of absurd episodes, ludicrous situations and knockabout action. Mistaken identity is frequently an element in the plot. The example being The Bear in BA and The Importance of Being Earnest at Master’s. Comedy A  road genre which encompasses a large variety of different kinds of literature; however, Comedy is used most often with reference to a kind of drama which is intended primarily to entertain the audience, and which ends happily for the characters.

4.      Satire Literature which examines or exhibits vice and folly and makes them appear ridiculous or contemptible. Satire differs from Comic in having a purpose. It is directly against a person and thing.

5.      Allegory  An emblem; a picture or a piece of writing in which meaning is symbolically represented. The simplest form of Allegory consists of a story or situation written in such a way as to have two coherent meanings. The Old Man and the Sea  is an allegorical novel.

6.      Tragedy Basically a tragedy traces the career and downfall of an individual and shows in the downfall both the capacities and limitations of human life. The Protagonist may be a superhuman, a monarch or, in the modern age, an ordinary person. Aristotle in his Poetics analyzed and observed that it presented a single action of a certain magnitude, that it provoked in the audience the emotions of pity and terror which were then resolved or dissolved by Catharsis at the play’s climax. 
7.      Soliloquy (Lat. To speak alone) A curious but fascinating dramatic convention, which allows a character in a play or novel to speak directly to the audience, as if thinking aloud about motives, feelings and decisions. In Othello, Iago has soliloquized his motives and so has Smirnov in the Bear.

8.      Irony  is a contradictory outcome. There are many types of Irony. In dramatic irony, When the audience of the play know more than the characters and can therefore foresee the tragic or comic circumstances which will befall. In situational irony, there is difference from expectation: Suicide committed by an admired person or murder may be plotted by an apparently harmless person. In verbal irony, we say one thing but mean another: the meaning is far from the usual meaning, calling a humble baker a rich man. It implies a contrast or discrepancy between what is said and meant.

9.      Novel. Almost no one definition is complete because novels are so varied and different in nature. Still one can start, Novel is an extended prose fiction narrative of 50,000 words or more, broadly realistic–concerning the everyday events of ordinary people–and concerned with character. “People in significant action” is one way of describing it.  Another definition might be “an extended, fictional prose narrative about realistic characters and events.” It is a representation of life, experience, and learning. Action, discovery, and description are important elements, but the most important tends to be one or more characters–how they grow, learn, find–or don’t grow, learn, or find.  

10.  Symbol. Something that on the surface is its literal self but which also has another meaning or even several meanings. For example, a sword may be a sword and also symbolize justice. A symbol may be said to embody an idea. There are two general types of symbols: universal symbols that embody universally recognizable meanings wherever used, such as light to symbolize knowledge, a skull to symbolize death, etc., and constructed symbols that are given symbolic meaning by the way an author uses them in a literary work, as the whales become  symbols of evil and lions of strength in the Old man and the Sea.

11.  Alliteration:  repetition of the same sound beginning several words in sequence. It was roses roses all the way, with myrtle mixed in my path like mad.

12.  Metaphor: implied comparison achieved through a figurative use of words; the word is used not in its literal sense, but in one analogous to it *Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player. You are a lion of the jungle.

13.   .Personification:  is attribution of personality to an impersonal thing.   

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance                   
And watch her feet, how they can dance

14.  Simile: an explicit comparison between two things using ‘like’ or ‘as’

You are as brave as a tiger.       
People were walking like the dead with vacant eyes. 
She is like a friend to me.

15.  Dramatic Monologue: A speech delivered when a character is either alone or isolated on the stage.  In dramatic monologue or soliloquy, the character freely gives vent to his feelings. The audience overhears the character talking to himself or herself. The Monologues could be private as well as public.

16.  Image and Imagery: A figurative or descriptive language that appeals to the five senses or the use of words and sentences to create an object or scene in the mind of the reader or listener is called an image. Imagery is the whole painted atmosphere created by the use of images.

17.  Syllables:  The unit of sound is called a syllable such as Work has one syllable; but  Work-ing has two.

18.  Line, verse, stanza:  The single written poetic line is called the Line when two lines are combined they make a Verse and when two or more verses are collected, they form a Stanza.

19.  Subjective or Objective: A thought is subjective when it is concerned with the personal reaction of somebody and objective when it ignores what the individual feels about something; but concentrates on the object itself. The Protagonist (main character of the story) in Araby by James Joyce has subjective feelings about the bazaar but the objective reality of that place was different.

20.  Protagonist: The main character in a story, novel or play about whom the whole story revolves such as the Old Man in the novel and the writer in James Joyce’ Araby.

Moral and Main Theme of "My Tailor" by Stephen Leacock

The moral of the essay, My Tailor is that we should try to understand our fellow beings and try to share the worries of our fellow beings specially the common professionals around us. We often go to so many people around us to buy or get prepared something for us but we keep ourselves restricted to the business matters. We take them for mechanical workers and never try to take them as a ‘man’.

These men also keep a screen of professional dealings and manners on them and do not show their real personality to us. That is what Leacock has presented in his essay, My Tailor’. He tells us about his tailor in a funny way. He describes his ways to talk and deal, habits and actions in a mocking way. But towards the end of the essay he tells us that when he learnt that his tailor was dead, he got a shock. Only then he understood him as a common man and came aware of his worries and hardships. When the tailor was alive, the writer had never tried to know about his real life. But after his death he felt sorry for him and regretted his formal dealings with him. He has not mentioned any particular moral lesson or advice in the essay. He has simply described the character sketch of the tailor and has let us draw the moral ourselves. And the best possible moral in this essay is surely that we should not restrict our dealings with others to the business only.

Character-Sketch of "My Tailor" by Stephen Leacock

‘My Tailor’ is apparently a humorous essay with a sad end. It is about the life of a professional man who looks like a machine during his work and keeps his real life and personality hidden under the cover of his professional life.

The writer draws the character sketch of his tailor and describes his behaviour and actions in a funny way. But towards the end of the essay he turns this humorous figure into a pathetic character and tries to win our sympathies for him. In fact he seems to be of the view point that the real personality of such men is hidden beyond their professional smiles, actions and dialogues. 

Whenever the writer used to go to his tailor to order for new suits, the tailor used to behave in the same way and rehearsed the same dialogues in every visit as these were the part of his dealings. There was always a smile of welcome on his face and a tape around his neck. He talked in a very sympathetic and polite way to his customers and always showed them cloth by putting on his bended knee. While taking the measurement, it was his habit to flatter the writer by saying that the size of his chest had increased by half an inch though the writer knew it very well that there was no increase at all in the size of his chest. Normally people start their conversation with the topic of weather but the tailor used to end the conversation at this topic.
The writer always enjoyed the actions, behaviours and machine like attitude of his tailor. But when he learnt that the tailor was dead, and his family was in trouble, he felt sorry for not knowing about his real personality in his life. For the first time, he took his for a man and realized his worries and problems. The death of the tailor tears his professional cover and shows him as a ‘man’. The writer describes this situation in a grave way and wins the sympathies of readers too for the tailor. 

What are your observations of "Walking on the Moon"?

“Walking on the moon” is an informative essay by David Scott. He has written this essay to tell us about his adventure of visiting the moon for three days. He has used a number of metaphors to make this essay interesting and attractive.

He tells us about the sights, experiences and weightlessness he observed there. He made this journey in the Apollo 15 on July 29, 1971 and landed on the surface of moon with the help of a lunar module along with his two companions. They felt weightlessness as the gravity of the moon was sixteen times less than that of earth. They felt as they were walking on a trampoline. There were mountains on the surface of the moon. Stars were shining there. Then the sun rose with its full brightness and they came down on the surface of the moon with the help of a ladder. There was no air, no water, no plants and no life. Only brownish mountains and the beaches were there. One day on the moon was equal to 50 hours on the earth. They walked on the moon with an air of pride and honour as they were doing what no human being had ever done and they were the first to touch that mystical soil under their feet. These were the observations and feelings of Scott which he has composed in his essay to share them with the readers so that they can also feel his enthusiasm and pride.

Nagasaki August 9, 1945 – essay bu Machaito Ichimaro

The essay is written as an attempt to point out the deterioration and destruction of atomic weapons. The writer has narrated the scene of destruction which happened after the attack of atomic bomb on Nagasaki by America.

When this was happened, the writer himself was there and witnessed it personally. He heard the voice of a plane and then the smoke and fire was every where. The roofs of the buildings swung away, grass burnt into black and people either died or injured badly. The parts of their bodies, spotted with their blood, were scattered on the ground. Death was marching everywhere. Splendid building had got the shape of ruins. A number of ambulances were running on the roads to take the people to the hospitals. Such was the scene of destruction in Nagasaki after the attack of atomic bomb on it. In fact the writer has given in his essay the picture of this horrible attack to make the world realize the after effects of the use of atomic weapons. He seems to be giving a message to all of us that atomic energy may be useful in some ways but as far as a war is concerned “never again should these terrible nuclear weapons be used, no matter what happens. Only when the mankind renounces the use of these nuclear weapons, will the souls of my friends rest in peace.” 

"Take the Plunge" theme and purpose by Gloria Emerson

‘Take the Plunge’ is a fantastic essay with the message that ‘Determination is the key to success’. We can always turn impossible into possible if we have confidence and strong will power. The writer, Gloria Emerson, has told us about her personal experience of taking the plunge to prove this message.

She has such a poor physical condition that everything that everybody used to take pity on her and thought her worth nothing. So she decided to do something extra ordinary to wash the mark of pity off her. She thought about many adventures but the only one suited with her bad back and uncertain ankles was to dive in the air with parachute from aeroplane. She joined a flying club to learn the art of diving with the help of a parachute. After completing her training successfully, she boarded a Corona 180 along with a companion. When she took the plunge, she felt the slap of wind and noise but after when her parachute popped open, everything came into peace giving her pleasant look of colours of earth and soothing expanse of space. In the end, she landed successfully. Nobody could expect from her such an act but she surprised all her friends by doing this bold act despite her poor physical condition. People applauded her attempt and her determination.