Sample Style Study: Hemingway
length of paragraphs, sentences, clauses, and his choices
Sometimes someone would
speak in a boat. But most of the boats were silent except
for the dip of the oars. They spread apart after they were
out of the mouth of the harbour and each one headed for
the part of the ocean where he hoped to find fish. The old
man knew he was going far out and he left the smell of the
land behind and rowed out into the clean early morning smell
of the ocean. He saw the phosphorescence of the Gulf weed
in the water as he rowed over the part of the ocean that
the fisherman called the great well because there was a
sudden deep of seven hundred fathoms where all sorts of
fish congregated because of the swirl the current made against
the steep walls of the floor of the ocean. Here there were
concentrations of shrimp and bait fish and sometimes schools
of squid in the deepest holes and these rose close to the
surface at night where all the wandering fish fed on them.
In the dark, the old
man could feel the morning coming and as he rowed he heard
the trembling sound as flying fish left the water and the
hissing that their stiff wings made as they soared away
in the darkness. He was very fond of flying fish as they
were his principal friends on the ocean. He was sorry for
the birds, especially the small delicate dark terns that
were always flying and looking and almost never finding
[. . .]. Why did they make birds so delicate and
fine as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel?
She is kind and very beautiful. But she can be so cruel
and it comes so suddenly and such birds that fly, dipping
and hunting, with their small sad voices are made too delicately
for the sea.
[. . .] He looked across
the sea and knew how alone he was now. But he could see
the prisms in the deep dark water, and the line stretching
ahead and the strange undulation of the calm. The clouds
were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead
and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against
the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again,
and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.
He thought of how some
men feared being out of sight of land in a small boat and
knew they were right in the months of sudden bad weather.
But now they were in hurricane months and when there are
no hurricanes, the weather of hurricane months is the best
of all the year.
If there is a hurricane
you always see the signs of it in the sky for days ahead,
if you are at sea. They do not see it ashore because they
do not know what to look for, he thought. The land must
make a difference too, in the shape of the clouds.
He looked at the sky
and saw the white cumulus built like friendly piles of ice
cream and high above were the thin feathers of the cirrus
against the high September sky.