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

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How does the old man's defeat impact him both economically and physically in The Old Man and the Sea?

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When Santiago returns to town after his encounter with the fish, he is physically exhausted. Investing all his energy in catching the huge marlin left him spent. Because he was not able to bring the fish back intact, he will not realize any profit on the venture. Although Ernest Hemingway has deliberately left the ending ambiguous, it is likely that Santiago may never regain his strength and that the epic battle with the fish was the last of his life. For all that, however, as he rested his chin on the boat, “he was happy.”

The question of “defeat” needs to be contextualized. Santiago’s struggle with the fish is in many ways as important as winning or losing. The man suffers some injuries in the course of battle, including to his...

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