In "Old Man at the Bridge," Hemingway uses a lot of metaphors and symbols. Explain them.

In “Old Man at the Bridge,” Hemingway uses animals to symbolize the innocent victims of war, like the eponymous character himself. The old man’s parlous condition is itself a metaphor for the adverse impact of war upon civilians.

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The animal symbolism in the story is quite prominent. The four pigeons are the most likely to survive because of their ability to fly above the fray created by mankind. It is thought that pigeons mate for life, suggesting that they possess a loyalty that humans often lack and intensifying the indictment against mankind's propensity for violence and destruction.

The goats seem likely to perish. It may be that Hemingway is alluding to scapegoats, which are traditionally seen as sacrificial animals for man's sins. These poor animals may become collateral damage in a war in which they have no stake.

A marked characteristic of cats is that they are independent, adaptable survivors with "nine lives." Because of these strengths, the man and the narrator are likely correct that the cat will survive because of its ability to elude mankind when it becomes necessary.

The age of the old man has imparted wisdom; he describes himself as apolitical, a wise choice in this time and place, when and where the government is unstable. Taking a side could be deadly and therefore not worth the risk. Life arguably becomes more precious to people as they approach their final years, and squandering it in a futile battle is a choice the old man would not make. The fact that he wears glasses implies that he is able to metaphorically see life clearly.

The bridge could metaphorically represent the divide between war and peace, safety and danger, and life and death. The narrator's final thoughts are ambiguous, echoed by the gray, obscuring clouds and suggesting that there could be death, but perhaps tempered by a resurrection.

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One need look no further than the title of this story to find its central metaphor. By telling us that the old man is "at" the bridge, as opposed to being "on" or "near" the bridge, or even "by the side of the road" where the narrator encounters him, Hemingway is describing less of an actually physical location than a threshold moment in the old man's existence. While all the other locals are pushing on with all their belongings over the bridge to safety from the coming bombing raid, the old man just sat there "too tired to go any further," a detail which implies the man's resignation to impending death. The bridge across the Ebro represents hope and possibility for the refugees, but as a metaphor it represents the end of the old man's life and the "crossing over" from this world to the next. The ancient Greeks believed that the souls of the dead were ferried across the river Styx to the underworld, and similarly, the old man sees the river crossing not as an escape to safety but as the proverbial "end of the line" for himself.

Another interesting metaphor is the detail of the story taking place on Easter Sunday. For Christians, the day symbolizes the promise of new life, but that which comes through blood and the killing of the "sacrificial lamb," which the faithful believe Jesus to have been. Just like the old man left his goats behind to die helplessly as he reluctantly joined the evacuation, the kindhearted narrator recognizes the old man's futility and guilt but understands that the poor war victim cannot be helped any further.

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Old Man at the Bridge” is replete with animal symbolism. It represents the innocent victims of war, such as the old man himself and the vast menagerie he’s been forced to leave behind in San Carlos. Though all of the animals that the old man used to care for are vulnerable to some extent, some are more vulnerable than others. The old man’s cat is resourceful and independent, and has a much better chance of survival than all the others. With the goats, on the other hand, it’s a different story. With no one to care for them, they will surely die, just like the old man himself.

Each animal represents a particular kind of person caught up in the heat of conflict. All such people will find it hard, but some will manage to survive, irrespective of the enormous hardships they’ll be forced to endure. But it’s unlikely that the old man will be one of them. Just as it’s better for him not to think about the goats he’s left behind in San Carlos, it’s better for the narrator not to think too much about the old man.

The parlous situation of the old man can be seen as a metaphor for the general condition of civilians caught up in the middle of war. As is almost always the case in modern warfare these are the people who have the worst of it. And that includes those, like the old man, who have no political allegiances.

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Animal symbolism is important in this short story. The old man is very concerned for the fate of his animals, which he has been forced to leave behind in a dangerous war zone. They symbolize the victims of war: innocents who have done nothing but nevertheless have to suffer for evils perpetrated by others that they, the animals, can't begin to understand.

The specific animals are important symbols too. The cat symbolizes those who can get away and survive, (if not happily) by their wits. The goats, who cannot so easily get away, represent the literal scapegoats: those that have to pay for the crimes of others.

Easter Sunday is a symbolic date too, as it commemorates the resurrection of Jesus, another innocent scapegoat who suffered violence. Here, however, Easter is not a time of resurrection but of continued violence and hate.

The old man's steel rimmed spectacles are a symbol of his ability to see more clearly to the heart of war's evil than the people around him.

A metaphor is a comparison between two seemingly dissimilar things, and the animals also function as metaphors in the story: they are like the innocent humans who are victims of war. The dust is a metaphor for the weariness everyone feels about the seemingly endless warfare.

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