How does Hemingway develop a sense of anticipation and drama at the beginning of the Old Man and the Sea?

15 April 2010

Hemingway’s opening is dramatic for a number of reasons. Read through the first two pages and/or listening to my podcast, and then list FOUR ways Hemingway develops a real sense of anticipation in the opening of the novel.

Do you agree with these points?

1. Hemingway immediately tells us that there is a great deal at stake. The old man has “gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish”: there is a sense of desperation here. He also says that the old man is “salao”, or unlucky, or cursed.

2. Hemingway generates a great deal of sympathy for the old man. How and why does he do this?

3. Hemingway uses description to build up an evocative picture of the old man’s life, giving the reader a real sense of the smells, sounds, sights, textures¬†and even tastes of this Cuban world, far removed from most of our lives.

4. Hemingway uses a variety of sentence structures to emphasize key points, contrasting long and short sentences.

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