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This is a story about an old fisherman who is on somewhat of an unlucky streak. The only
other fisherman who still believes in him is a young boy who has helped him fish in
the past. The boy often takes care of the old man, who lives in a shack and often goes
The old man goes out, as he does every day, and tosses his line over the edge of the boat.
He waits until something sharp pulls on the line. The fish is so strong that it begins
to pull the boat.
The fish is resilient and continues to pull the boat further and further through the night.
On the second day, the old man realizes he needs food and catches a dolphin, which he
On the third day, he finally outlasts the fish and harpoons him. He drags the marlin
to the side of the boat and is happy of his catch. However, he has to defend his catch
against the slew of sharks.
He manages to kill several sharks, but by the time he makes it back to town, the marlin
is nothing but bones.
Exhausted, he barely makes it back to his shack, where he is greeted by the boy.
While other authors have dealt with man against nature, this story concentrates that theme
through its length, as well as the narrative. Hemingway often puts the reader into the mind
of the old man with dialogue, but also internal monologue. This may present the old man as
crazy, but it also reveals his emotions as he battles the fish over three days.
This, of course, sets up the tragic ending where he is left to fight off the sharks from
his prize catch that nearly took his life. The guy spent three days out at sea and had
nothing to show for it when he got back.
The ending of somewhat questionable as well. The old man is still poor, but the boy, and
the other fishermen, have newfound respect for him. You may not be able to teach an old
dog new tricks, but he may still be able to impress you.