The Old Man and The Sea

The Old Man and the Sea is a novella written by the American author Ernest Hemingway in 1951 in Cayo Blanco (Cuba), and published in 1952. It was the last major work of fiction written by Hemingway that was published during his lifetime. One of his most famous works, it tells the story of Santiago, an aging Cuban fisherman who struggles with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Cuba.

In 1953, The Old Man and the Sea was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and it was cited by the Nobel Committee as contributing to their awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Hemingway in 1954.



Santiago is the protagonist of the novella. He is an old fisherman in Cuba who, at the beginning of the book has not caught anything for eighty-four days. The novella follows Santiago’s quest for the great catch that will save his career. Santiago endures a great struggle with an uncommonly large and noble marlin only to lose the fish to rapacious sharks on his way back to land Despite this loss. Santiago ends the novel with his spirit undefeated. Santiago represents Hemingway himself searching for his next great book.


Manolin is Santiago’s only friend and companion. Santiago taught Manolin to fish, and the boy used to go out to sea with the old man until his parents objected to Santiago’s bad luck. Manolin still helps Santiago pull in his boat in the evenings and provides the old man with food and bait when he needs it. Manolin is the reader’s surrogate in the novel, appreciating Santiago’s heroic spirit and skill despite his outward lack of Success.

The Marlin

Although he does not speak and we do not have access to his thoughts, the marlin is certainly an important character in the novella. The marlin is the fish Santiago spends the majority of the novel tracking, kiling, and attempting to bring to shore The marlin is larger and more spirited than any Santiago has ever seen. Santiago idealizes the marlin ascribing to it traits of great nobility, a fish to which he must prove his own nobility if he is to be worthy to catch it

Summary and Review

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 hungry.

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 eats.

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 with 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 on 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 is 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.

Categories: Book Reviews, Books

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