Ernest Hemmingway was writing an autobiographical story about the lost love of his life. The one that got away. If you haven’t read the book, read it after reading this. Also, I’m doing this from 37-year-old memories and I’m not fact-checking so please be kind. Old Santiago is fishing for the love of his life. He hooks a great blue Marlin, the largest fish Santiago can remember anybody catching even from when he was a young boy. ‘The Great Prize’ represents the woman that Hemmingway loved. Santiago spent endless straining hours fighting this great fish, he had to possess it and claim it as his own. The battle with the fish represents Hemmingway and his lover’s courtship.
The reason he wrote in such short concise and precise sentences is because that is the language of love and lovemaking. Santiago catches his great prize and fastens her to the skip, but in possessing her Santiago begins to corrupt her spirit. The pack of attacking sharks rip away the valuable flesh of this great fish. Santiago returns to his hut after suffering a heart attack with only the skeleton of his great fish tied to the skiff, he lays down on his blanket in the floor of his hut and falls asleep. Likewise, Hemmingway returned home with a broken heart after losing the only true love of his life. The book ends with ‘Santiago dreaming of elephants’. Santiago wasn’t defeated or broken, and he would have another conquest. Unfortunately, I believe Hemmingway was defeated and this loss may have resulted in his suicide.