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In The Old Man and the Sea, there are three levels to the setting: land, air, and sea. The time is in the present (1952).
1. The novella begin begins on land in a fishing village on the island of Cuba. The action follows the old man as he prepares for his voyage. We see that Santiago lives alone, though the boy and his daughter visit him. We see that several other fishermen poke fun at Santiago for his unlucky streak.
2. The setting then changes to the sea and air. As Santiago voyages far out, he makes contact with the birds, using them to find the fish. Though we never see below the water, the setting involves the struggle between the marlin as it dives. Then, after it is caught, the marlin's attack by the sharks becomes the focus.
3. The action returns to land as Santiago drags the skeleton to shore and carries the mast home like a Christ-figure bearing a cross.
Here are some further insights by Enotes:
The Old Man and the Sea takes place entirely in a small fishing village near Havana, Cuba, and in the waters of the Gulf Stream, a current of warm water that runs north, then east of Cuba in the Caribbean Sea. Hemingway visited Cuba as early as 1928, and later lived on the coast near Havana for nineteen years, beginning in 1940, so he knew the area very well. The references to Joe Dimaggio and a series of games between the Yankees and the Detroit Tigers in which Dimaggio came back from a slump have enabled scholars to pinpoint the time during which the novel takes place as mid-September 1950. As Manolin also reminds readers, September is the peak of the blue marlin season. The story takes three days, the length of the battle against the fish, but as Manolin reminds the old man, winter is coming on and he will need a warm coat.
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