People always say that Hemingway was a simple writer. People like Harry Levin, who pointed out the “biggest weakness of Hemingway’s writing is the lack of complex syntax and diction, but Hemingway must be praised for his ability to convey action”, which, while it may be somewhat true, does not take away from the overall quality of his work. Hemingway didn’t need big words or complex dialogue in order to create his masterpieces; he only needed a character, a boat, and a fish in order to write one of the most well thought out and eloquent pieces of literature that has ever been written. There are many people who simply look at the obvious; the man, the boat, the fish, the sea, but many fail to realize that there is so much symbolism wrapped up in each choice of word, even the numbers have so much meaning. Numbers like five for parts of a whole, 3 for the holy trinity, forty for trials, one for completeness, and so on and so forth. All of the numbers have ties to the bible, as do the names associated with the old man, Santiago, and his younger companion, who is nameless, though Santiago, whose name in it of itself, means Saint John, dubs his fledgling confidant Manolin, which literally translates to messiah. As much as students may or may not have hated analyzing books for English Class, actually looking into detail for everything in Old Man and the Sea, which is not only made up of 3 letter words (remember the trinity?), but is also a five word title which means that it is a part of a whole, actually helps the reader understand so much more of the story. Really, though some authors need it to make their works worth reading, Hemingway does not need “complex syntax and diction” to complete his works to the caliber of other classics writers, like Steinbeck or Knowles.
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