In many ancient cultures, as early as 2000BC, people were fishing for survival; fish were a major source of food. As fishing developed over the years, people became dependent on fishing for an income to pay bills and make a living. The fishing industry changed over time, threatening the livelihood of many. When fishing first developed, people used simple equipment and methods. Early fishers used hooks made of stone, bone and wood that were attached to vines as fishing rods, along with handmade harpoons to catch fish. Many fishers used both old and modernized equipment as well as new inventions. Fishing nets had been used since Jesusí time and continued to be favored by newly established fishing industries such as Gortonís in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Nets gathered more fish at once and saved fishers time out at sea. New inventions such as oil powered trawlers were welcomed by the industries; they gave boats more speed and also cut down on time spent at sea. By the late twentieth century, these new inventions caused overfishing and threatened the fishing industry.
Sebastian Jungerís non-fiction work, The Perfect Storm, relates the attempts of a group of Gloucester fishermen to survive a hurricane out at sea as they attempt to bring their catch home. Like many of Jungerís books, The Perfect Storm focuses on individuals facing life-threatening situations. In this work as in his others, Junger uses an epic survival story about otherwise average men to symbolize the universal human struggle to establish a place in society, both personally and financially. The Gloucester fishermen are hit with natureís uncontrollable force and must work to overcome in order to return home, just as individuals in society must battle against their past, their social status, and othersí low expectations for them, just to establish a more fulfilling life. Even though the fishing industry is dangerous and life-threatening, the men that Junger depicts in The Perfect Storm are willing to persevere even until their deaths in order to pay their bills, support themselves and their families, and hopefully, one day, establish a place within society.
Major Works Consulted:
Junger, Sebastian. Fire. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.
---. War. New York: Hachette, 2010.
Kurlansky, Mark. The Last Fish Tale. New York: Ballantine, 2006.
Love, Patrick. Fisheries: While Stocks Last? Paris: Oecd, 2010.
Junger, Sebastian. War. New York: Hachette, 2010.