The Old man and the sea by Ernest Hemingway Summary and Notes

The old man and the sea Written by Ernest Hemingway Notes and Summary for the BA English Semester 3 of BBMKU and VBU University. JPathshala specially provides notes of BBMKU University Dhanbad.

The old man and the sea
The old man and the sea

The old man and the sea summary

For 84 days, the old fisherman Santiago has caught no fish. Santiago is now considered unlucky, alone, impoverished, and facing his own mortality. So Manolin (A young boy and Santiago’s fishing partner) has been denied by his parents to fish in another, more productive boat. Every evening, though, when Santiago similarly returns empty-handed, Manolin helps carry home the older man’s equipment, keeps him company, and brings him meals.

On the 85th day, in the morning, Santiago sailed before dawn on a three-day odyssey that took him very far out to sea. In search of a fish, he finally does snag a marlin of epic proportions, enduring incredible difficulty to land the great fish. He straps the marlin along the length of his boat and heads for home, hardly believing his victory. Within an hour, A mako shark attacks the marlin, taking away a large chunk of its flesh and disfiguring Santiago’s prize. Santiago endures great suffering and finally defeats the mako with his harpoon.

The torn flesh of the marlin releases the fish’s bloodstream and smells into the water, drawing packs of shovel-nosed Sharks. Santiago fights the scavengers with whatever equipment he has. He strives tiredness, great pain, and even tears something in his chest. The sharks finally took the marlin’s flesh and left the skull. Santiago, defeated, reaches the shore and beaches the skiff. He is alone in the darkness and looks at the marlin’s skull in the streetlight reflection. Then he struggles back to his shack and falls on his cot in exhaustion.

The following day Manolin finds Santiago in his hut and cries over the older man’s injuries. Manolin brings coffee and listens to the other fisherman what he had already glimpsed — that the marlin’s skeleton tied to the boat is eighteen feet long, the most incredible fish the village has known. Manolin sits with Santiago until he awakes, giving the older man some coffee. The older man tells Manolin that he was defeated. But Manolin comforts him by telling lines:

  • that the great fish didn’t beat him, 
  • that they will fish together again, 
  • that luck doesn’t matter, 
  • and that the older man still can teach him many things.

That afternoon, some tourists see the marlin’s skeleton waiting to go out with the tide and ask a server what it is. Trying to clarify what happened to the marlin, the waiter replies, “Eshark.” But the tourists misconstrue and guess that’s what the skeleton is.

Back in his hut, with Manolin sitting beside him, Santiago dozes again and dreams of the young lions he had seen along the coast of Africa when he was a young man.

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