Il vecchio pescatore viene descritto principalmente attraverso i segni che il duro lavoro e il sole hanno lasciato sulla pelle del suo viso e delle mani. Tuttavia, molta parte del romanzo è dedicato ai suoi occhi: l’aspetto del suo sguardo, quanto sia importante per lui la vista e la cura che ne ha, quello che vede o vorrebbe vedere. Gli occhi sono l’unica cosa giovane, e soprattutto la più vitale, che sia rimasta in quel vecchio corpo consumato dalla fatica e dagli stenti.
“Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same colour as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated. […]
The old man looked at him (Manolin, the boy) with his sunburned, confident, loving eyes. […]
The old man’s head was very old though and with his eyes closed there was no life in his face. […] The old man opened his eyes and for a moment he was coming back from a long way away.[…]
All my life the early sun has hurt my eyes, he thought. Yet they are still good. In the evening I can look straight into it without getting the blackness. It has more force in the evening too. But in the morning is painful. […]
He also drunk a cup of shark liver oil each day […] and it was good for the eyes. […]
He looked across the sea and knew how alone he was now. […] He looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks […] and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.[…]
Once I could see quite well in the dark. Not in the absolute dark. But almost as cat sees. […] I don’t think I can endure the loss of the eye and of both eyes and continue to fight as the fighting cocks do. […]
I wish I could see him only once to know what I have against me.[…]
I would like to fly very slowly at two hundred fathoms high and see the fish from above. In the turtle boats I was in the cross-tree of the mast-head and even at that height I saw much. The dolphin looks greener from there and you can see their stripes and their purple spots and you can see all of the school as they swim.
È probabile che ricorderete l’impareggiabile interpretazione e gli occhi di Spencer Tracy nel film che porta lo stesso titolo del libro. Non saprei scegliere, ve li consiglio entrambi.