The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961)
Type of Work:
North Coast of Cuba; early twentieth century
Santiago, an old, weathered fisherman Manolin , a boy, Santiago's young fishing companion The Marlin, a gigantic fish
Eighty-four days had passed since Santiago, the old fisherman, had caught a fish, and he was forced to suffer not only the ridicule of younger fishermen, but
near-starvation as well. Moreover, Santiago had lost his young companion, a
boy named Manolin, whose father had ordered him to leave Santiago in order to
work with more successful seamen. But the devoted child still ...view middle of the document...
He watched the turtles swimming near his boat. He loved the turtles, "with their
elegance and speed... "
Most people are Heartless about turtles because a turtle's heart will beat for
hours after he has been cut tip and butchered. The old man thought, I have
such a heart too ...
Early on, Santiago managed to land a tenpound tuna. Thinking this a good
omen, he used the fresh meat to bait one of his lines. By now he was far away
from land, and much farther out than all the other fishermen. Resisting the
temptation to sleep or to let his mind wander, Santiago concentrated on his lines
reaching deep into the dark green waters.
At noon he felt a bite. Testing his line, he guessed that it must be a marlin
nibbling at the tuna bait. "He must be huge," the old man thought, and waited
anxiously for a strike. Suddenly, the fish took the bait entirely and began to swim
furiously out to sea, dragging the boat behind him. The fish was so powerful that
Santiago was helpless to stop him; he could only brace himself against the
weight placed on the taut line that cut across his shoulders and hold on until the
fish exhausted its strength. Darkness fell, and still the fish swam steadily out to
sea. The seaman spent a grueling night with the line looped painfully round his
back. Though he was weak, old and all alone, Santiago knew many tricks, and
possessed skills the young men yet lacked. Besides, he loved the sea with a
passion and had faith that she would handle him with reverent, though bitter,
kindness. Once, when the fish gave a sudden tug, the line slashed Santiago's
cheek. "Fish," the old man vowed softly, "I'll stay with you until I am dead."
Then he began to pity the great fish that he had hooked. He is wonderful and
strange and u)ho knows how old he is, he thought ... Perhaps he is too wise to
jump. He could ruin me by jumping or by a wild rush. But perhaps he has been
hooked many times before and he knows that this is how he should make his
fight. He cannot know that it is only one man against him, or that it is an old man
His choice had been to stay in the deep dark water far out beyond all snares
and traps and treacheries. My choice was to go there to find him beyond all
people .... Now we are joined together and have been since noon. And no one to
help either of us.
By morning of the second day the fish was still beading northward; vigorous,
seemingly tireless strokes of its tail guided it forward. There was no land in sight.
A stiffening cramp in Santiago's left hand, a wicked slice in his right, and his
shivering from cold was hampering his work. "I wish I had the boy," he said aloud.
All at once the fish surfaced and leaped into the air. Santiago marveled at the
enormous, lavender marlin, two feet longer than the boat itself - the biggest fish
the old man had ever seen.
Once again the fish set out, relentlessly towing the boat....