A classic Ernest Hemingway novel has become the latest casualty of the Woke Squad as a university warns its students about ‘graphic fishing scenes’ in the book.
“The Old Man and the Sea” is the story of one man’s heroic struggle against the elements and is often presented as a metaphor for life itself. The 1952 classic has inspired several television and film adaptations, all of which have received U and PG certificates, making it suitable for children. However, the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland – an area known for its sprawling fishing industry – has issued a content warning to its history and literature students for the novel. The note was discovered in documents obtained by the Daily Mail under freedom of information laws.
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“It’s nonsense,” Mary Dearborn, author of “Ernest Hemingway, A Biography,” told the newspaper. “It drives me crazy to think that students could be encouraged to avoid the book. The world is a violent place and it is counterproductive to pretend otherwise. Much of the violence in the story is rooted in the world natural. It’s the law of nature.” Meanwhile, Jeremy Black, emeritus professor of history at the University of Exeter, said it was “particularly stupid” given the “dependence of the Highlands and Islands economy on industries such as fishing and agriculture”. He added: “Many great works of literature have included references to agriculture, fishing, whaling or hunting. Is the university seriously suggesting that all of this literature is shrouded in ‘warnings?’
“The Old Man and the Sea” is the story of an aging fisherman named Santiago, who snatches an 18-foot marlin as he sails in his skiff off the coast of Cuba. Due to the giant fish’s size, he is unable to tie it to the stern of the small vessel or pull it aboard, so he continues to hold the line for several days and nights. Santiago feels compassion for the animal despite intense physical pain. He reluctantly kills the fish after it begins circling his craft, but is then forced to fight off several sharks looking to feast on the corpse. The fisherman ends up blaming himself for killing the marlin and tells the sharks that they killed his dreams before they reached shore. Many believe the Battle of Santiago with elements of nature reflects Hemingway’s own experiences, while others view the story of bloodshed, endurance, and sacrifice as a metaphor for Christianity.
Nevertheless, the University of the Highlands and Islands, which has 13 research institutes and colleges, has issued a content warning for several of these classics. Some of these include Homer’s “The Iliad”, written in the 8th century BC, and “Beowulf”, an English poem from 1025 AD, with warnings that they contain “scenes of fierce close combat”. . Meanwhile, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is said to contain “brutal murder and cruelty”, and Shakespeare’s classics “Hamlet” and “Romeo and Juliet” are said to contain scenes of “stabbing, poisoning and suicide”. A University spokesperson defended the warning notes, saying they “enable students to make informed choices,” said the Daily Mail reported.