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The Old Man and the Sea

An overview of the novella written by Ernest Hemingway
by

Mitchell Townsend

on 22 August 2011

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Transcript of The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea An overview of the novella written by Ernest Hemingway Protagonist The Old Man (Santiago) Antagonist The Marlin Conflict The Old Man and the Marlin Theme Plot The story's antagonist is the marlin that the old man persists on catching. It doesn't attack the old man out of any kind of hatred or rivalry, but it still poses as a challenge to the old man. The book says, "Just then the fish gave a sudden lurch that pulled the old man down onto the bow and would have pulled him overboard if he had not braced himself and given some line" (55). It took the old man four days to kill the marlin. It was so large the book says, " 'He is two feet longer than the skiff', the old man said" (63). This marlin was truly a great adversary. The major conflict in this story is between the old man and the marlin. The marlin was the old man's first official catch in over eighty-four days, but it took a lot for him to finally catch it. In the book it says, " 'I am not religious,' he said. 'But I will say ten Our Fathers and ten Hail Mary's that I should catch this fish, and I promise to make a pilgrimage to the Virgin of Cobre if I catch him. That I promise' " (64-65). It took the old man four days to do so. He had an unusual respect for the marlin. The book states that, " 'The fish is my friend too,' he said aloud. 'I have never seen or heard of such a fish. But I must kill him' " (75). The reward in your efforts, and dealing with defeat. The theme very well suits the book in that that it is what the old man learned throughout his battle with the marlin and his age. The old man was in a long and painful battle with a marlin larger than his own boat and he persevered until he finally killed it. The book states, " 'It was the only way to kill him,' the old man said" (97). Although the old man was proud of his victory it was all-in-all short lived. The book says, "It was an hour before the first shark hit him" (100). The old man had to accept defeat from the sharks but still felt honored to have caught such a great fish. Beginning Problem The old man was facing a serious problem with his fishing. In the book it states, "He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish" (9). Regardless he kept his spirits up and told himself he'll get one next time. The boy who fished with him also encouraged him all the way through. Rising Actions Climax/Turning Point Falling Actions Resolution The books action takes place on the sea between the old man and the marlin, but it took some time before they engaged in battle certain things happened beforehand. Such as, "The boy was back now with the sardines and the two baits wrapped in a newspaper and they went down the trail to the skiff, feeling the pebbled sand under their feet, and lifted the skiff and slid her into the water" (27). The old man loved to be out on the water and watch the wonders of nature, "He watched the flying fish burst out again and again and the ineffectual movements of the bird" (34).
He fished traditionally by casting a line and was very good at it, "The old man held the line delicately, and softly, with his left hand, unleashed it from the stick. Now he could let it run through his fingers without the fish feeling any tension. He had an elaborate plan to capture the fish he was after. He was a skilled fisherman and his skills tended to serve him well over the years. When he got a bite though he was still excited, "'He's taken it,' he said. 'Now I'll let him eat it well' "(44). And so began his battle with the great marlin. The story's protagonist is the old man himself also known as Santiago. After not having caught a single fish in eighty-four days he was the laughing stock of his entire village, but his young apprentice, Manolin, was still faithful to him. The book says, "The old man taught the boy to fish and he loved him" (10). When the old man fished he did not do so simply for sport, he did so because he was fascinated by the sea and all the creatures that lived in it. When he was fishing for the marlin the says, "Then he began to pity the great fish he had hooked. He is wonderful and strange and who knows how old he is, though" (48). The old man definitely qualifies as the protagonist. The climax/turning point was when the old man finally caught the marlin. It was a decisive victory for the old man and he was proud of it. He was valiant in his battle and he did everything he could to kill it. The book says, "The old man dropped the line and put his foot on it and lifted the harpoon as high as he could and drove it down with all his strength, and more strength he had just summoned, into the fish's side just behind the great chest fin that rose high in the air to the altitude of the old man's chest" (93-94). It was truly a great catch for the old man. After the fish was caught the actions started to fall after a while. Sharks swam up to the dead marlin the old man had tied to the side of the skiff and started to tear it apart. They tore it up so bad the old man was horrified. The book says," He did not look at the fish anymore since he had been mutilated. When the fish had been hit it was as though he himself were hit" (103). The old man did fight back however. The book says, "He took up the oar with the knife and lashed to it" (107). His efforts were not enough for the sharks had eaten every last piece of meat on that fish. When the old man docked there was nothing left of the fish but its skeleton. The book states, "He saw the white naked line of his backbone and the dark mass of the head with the projecting bill and all the nakedness between" (121). He was sad that the fish was eaten but more sad that he was there and could do nothing to stop it. He enjoyed fighting the fish and was proud when he reeled it in. Although sad for the old man the only thing he could do with that experience is cherish it and tell it as a story of when he caught and killed a great marlin. Conclusion And so concludes my overview of Ernest Hemmingway's: The Old Man and the Sea. This novella played a big part in his winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He is truly a wonderful writer and gifted story teller. A film based on the book came out in 1958 staring actor Spencer Tracy. By: Mitchell Townsend
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