The Old Man and the Sea Questions and Answers
by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea book cover
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Describe the hardships endured by the old man in The Old Man and the Sea as he fights to catch the marlin. Do you consider the battle between the old man and the marlin to be a fair and equally matched fight? 

The Old Man endures many hardships as he fights to catch the marlin, like having to deal with the aches and pains of his aging body as he bravely tries to kill the huge fish. The titanic struggle exhausts him, both mentally and physically. The battle between the Old Man and the marlin isn't a fair and equally matched fight because the marlin is faster and stronger.

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The old fisherman Santiago experiences a lot of hardship, both physical and mental, in his epic battle of wills against the great marlin. For one thing, he's way too old to be participating in what is very much a young man's game. It's the young men who regularly end up with the biggest catches, which they proudly display upon returning from their fishing trips. Santiago can only watch with envy; once upon a time, he was just like the young men of today. But that was a long time ago, and as he heads towards his twilight years Santiago realizes that his days as a fisherman are well and truly numbered.

Santiago's advancing years are the main reason why he finds it such a struggle to catch the marlin. It takes him three whole days to harpoon and kill the gigantic fish. Landing his big catch takes a lot out of Santiago; the slightest physical exertion takes him to the brink of exhaustion. His aging body aches with every twist and turn in this epic battle of wills. Not only that, but Santiago becomes mentally exhausted, a further sign that his days at sea are numbered.

On the whole, one would have to say that the battle between Santiago and the marlin is not a fair one. The marlin is everything the old man isn't: fast, agile, and strong. That Santiago is finally able to prevail in this epic contest is a testament to his years of experience as a fisherman. His victory is also due, in no small part, to a sense of blind desperation on his part, arising out of fear that this may be his last big catch.

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