Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Papa's Marlin

Here's a confession. I'm a huge Hemingway fan, and yet recently I realized I could not remember reading The Old Man and the Sea - meaning I probably sped-read it in high school two hours before a quiz (one of many gaping holes in my have-read list.) Embarrassing, right?

So I revisited the little book, and had some lukewarm moments with Papa - but this passage got me:

He remembered the time he had hooked one of a
pair of marlin. The male fish always let the female fish feed first and the hooked fish, the female, made a wild, panic-stricken, despairing fight that soon exhausted her, and all the time the male had stayed with her, crossing the line and circling with her on the surface. He had stayed so close that the old man was afraid he would cut the line with his tail which was sharp as a scythe and almost of that size and shape. When the old man had gaffed her and clubbed her, holding the rapier bill with its sandpaper edge and dubbing her across the top of her head until her color turned to a color almost like the backing of mirrors, and then, with the boy’s aid, hoisted her aboard, the male fish had stayed by the side of the boat. Then, while the old man was clearing the lines and preparing the harpoon, the male fish jumped high into the air beside the boat to see where the female was and then went down deep, his lavender wings, that were his pectoral fins, spread wide and all his wide lavender stripes showing. He was beautiful, the old man remembered, and he had stayed.

What's that? you ask.
Oh, just the sound of Hemingway breaking my heart with a grieving male marlin. I mean, I can't shake it. Days later and still thinking about that damn marlin...

Photo Credit


  1. ask rhombus about that book--she read it to me for O.M. in like 3rd grade. great passage

  2. Great passage. It's been a long time for me as well and I love that book. I read it first when I was too young to really get a lot of it and then again a while back. It's strange what we take from the same book.