The Narrative Techniques and Style of the Language in Hemingway's the Old Man and the Sea

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Generally speaking, Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea may be seen as a culmination of his long-drawn experiment spanning over 25 years and speculations towards finding out the means through which the “closed literature” can be converted into “an open one”, that is, to universalise the significance of the themes. He was very much aware of the danger in and difficulties with “closed literature” which in its factual texture, so lightly woven, presents such opacity of vision that the reader is unable to see through it any larger implication and that he may even “find himself squirming with aesthetic claustrophobia”. Hemingway revolted against these stylistic limits which factualistic naturalism necessarily imposes on the sensibility of an artist. In Death and the Afternoon he asserted that the writer of prose ought to aim at “architecture, not interior decoration”; in other words, to provide the particular kind of fenestration through which the reader is able to catch glimpses of larger implications of the world. Compared with his contemporaries, for instance, Faulkner, Hemingway deliberately avoids elaborations of technique through which the modernists chose to present the complexity and disjunctions of modern experience and loss of value in their interpretation. There can be found little in his works in the way of those large presentational strategies by which they created the impressions of flux and plurality of contemporary consciousness, but that consciousness is there in Hemingway’s works.

Very clearly in his career Hemingway discovered the reductive principles which can ensure the concentration of subject, place and mood, and enumerations of the world which can ensure unbeatable definiteness of detail and guaranteed precision of effect. The novel The Old Man and the Sea opens up with such an informal, simple, relaxed yet forceful description that the reader is immediately caught up in the story:

“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the...
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