Illustration of a marlin in the water

The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway
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How do the townspeople respond to Santiago’s catch in The Old Man and the Sea? Does their opinion matter?

The opinions of Santiago’s fellow fisherman don't matter much. Their praise and astonishment may have given Santiago a momentary feeling of satisfaction, but in the grand scheme of things for Santiago, their comments do not make a difference in his life. Bringing home a skeleton of this size may garner him more respect than he had before, but this will not make a difference to his career as a fisherman. Manolin's opinion and reaction, however, make a huge difference to Santiago, as the young man's commitment to return to going to sea with him means that Santiago won'

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When Santiago returns from his epic adventure at sea, the fellow fisherman who he meets up with on the pier marvel at the size of the skeleton of the fish that he had caught, proclaiming it to be larger than any fish any of them had ever seen. The old man was also greeted by Manolin, Santiago’s former protege who had been forced by financial constraints to go and work on another boat, leaving Santiago to go to sea alone.

The opinions of Santiago’s fellow fisherman don’t matter much. Their praise and astonishment may have given Santiago a momentary feeling of satisfaction, but in the grand scheme of things for Santiago, their comments do not make a difference in his life. Bringing home a skeleton of this size may garner him more respect than he had before, but this will not make a difference to his career as a fisherman.

Manolin’s opinion and reaction, however, make a huge difference to Santiago, as the young man’s commitment to return to going to sea with him means that Santiago won’t be going out on his own any longer and that next time he comes across a large marlin, he will have the help that he needs to bring it aboard without such a struggle.

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