At the end of Ernest Hemingway's novella, The Old Man and the Sea, what is Manolin's reaction when he finds Santiago asleep in the morning?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway, an old fisherman named Santiago has just come home after a three-day battle with a giant marlin. He is exhausted when he arrives, and he does not make any kind of fuss when he gets back on land: no telling others about the catch or bragging about how strong he had to be to have caught it.

Inside the shack he leaned the mast against the wall. In the dark he found a water bottle and took a drink. Then he lay down on the bed. He pulled the blanket over his shoulders and then over his back and legs and he slept face down on the newspapers with his arms out straight and the palms of his hands up.

This is how the young boy, Manolin, finds the old man in the morning. He adores Santiago and wants, in the worst way, to be able to fish with the old man again. Santiago has been gone for three days, and certainly Manolin must have feared the worst. Nevertheless, he holds out enough hope to check on the old man every morning, hoping he has returned. Today Santiago is home.

He was asleep when the boy looked in the door in the morning. It was blowing so hard that the drifting-boats would not be going out and the boy had slept late and then come to the old man’s shack as he had come each morning. The boy saw that the old man was breathing and then he saw the old man’s hands and he started to cry. He went out very quietly to go to bring some coffee and all the way down the road he was crying.

Manolin's tears are no doubt caused by a rush of emotions, including love, relief, thankfulness, and pride. We know that Santiago will not boast of his great catch, but Manolin does it for the old man. He goes down to the Terrace to get some breakfast for his mentor.

“How is he?” one of the fishermen shouted.

“Sleeping,” the boy called. He did not care that they saw him crying. “Let no one disturb him.” “He was eighteen feet from nose to tail,” the fisherman who was measuring him called.

“1 believe it,” the boy said.

One of the other fisherman says there has never been such a fish as the great marlin, but he also praises the two fish the boy caught yesterday. Manolin angrily dismisses his own accomplishments in light of Santiago's great achievement. “'Damn my fish,'” the boy said and he started to cry again."

Manolin's reaction to seeing Santiago home and safe is overwhelming relief and pride; the boy must also certainly hope he will be able to fish with his beloved Santiago once again.

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The Old Man and the Sea

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