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How did the way the author presented the last scene in "The Old Man and The Sea" affect...

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guayas44 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted October 13, 2011 at 4:32 AM via web

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How did the way the author presented the last scene in "The Old Man and The Sea" affect our dislike of that scene?

The scene were the tourists are gawking at the washed up fish carcass. How did the author present it, so that it would have a negative effect on the reader.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 13, 2011 at 5:14 AM (Answer #1)

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A reader’s reaction to a scene will vary, but authors can intentionally make us dislike a scene.  There are ways that authors affect a reader.  Authors create the mood, or emotional feeling, or their story very carefully.  They do this through their tone, or the attitude they convey in the words they choose.  In this way, authors can influence readers to feel a certain way.  Consider this paragraph from the end of the novella.

That afternoon there was a party of tourists at the Terrace and looking down in the water among the empty beer cans and dead barracudas a woman saw a great long white spine with a huge tail at the end that lifted and swung with the tide while the east wind blew a heavy steady sea outside the entrance to the harbor.

First of all, this is one long sentence.  This creates a sense of irritation and presence.  We feel like it will never end, so we feel like we are right there when it’s happening.  The author has carefully chosen to include “empty beer cans” and “dead barracudas” to create a sense of decay and waste.

He also chooses to accentuate the words used to describe the fish.  Phrases like “great long white spine” and “huge tail” tell us that this is likely the fish we have been talking about.    This is where tone really comes in.  By describing the wind as “heavy” and “steady,” the author creates a heavy feeling in the reader.  We react that way because HE reacts that way.  We are reminded of this big fish, and what the story was about.

When the lady asks the waiter what it is, he tells her it’s a shark.

“I didn’t know sharks had such handsome, beautifully formed tails.”

“1 didn’t either,” her male companion said.

This might make the reader annoyed or sad, and dislike the scene.  We might feel that this ending is unsatisfying.  We know how much trouble the old man went to for this fish, yet it just washes up on shore unrecognized.  The old man, dreaming about lions, has moved on.  Or has he? The reader can decide.

 

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