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

The Old Man and the Sea book cover
Start Your Free Trial

In The Old Man and the Sea, narrate Santiago's epic struggles, his triumph, and his loss.

Expert Answers info

Philip Arrington eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write1,342 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

The short novel The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway tells of an elderly fisherman named Santiago who has not caught a fish for many days and is considered unlucky. He finally brings in a huge marlin, but before he is able to get it to shore, it is eaten by sharks.

To narrate is to tell a story in detail. "Epic" in the context of this story means "heroic." When you fulfill this assignment, keep in mind that the basic outline of this story is very simple. The old man is heroic because despite the fact that he is elderly, does not have the strength that he used to have, and has failed in the past to find fish, he goes far out on the open ocean all alone to attempt once again to catch a fish. His triumph is that he finally does catch a fish, and it is an enormous fish, far larger than the other fishermen usually bring in. His loss is that because he is unable to successfully fight away the sharks, they strip the fish of meat, so he cannot profit financially from his successful struggle with the fish.

This is the outline of the story, and to narrate Santiago's struggles, you add details that are significant. For example, Santiago goes far out into the Gulf Stream, beyond where the other fishermen usually go. He puts out lines, catches smaller fish, and eats them raw to keep up his strength while he is fighting the great fish. He holds onto the line for a long time while the fish pulls him a great distance, so that his hands become torn. Santiago finally manages to pull the marlin in and kill it with his harpoon. When the sharks attack, he fashions a weapon by tying his knife to the end of an oar and battles them with great courage. All of these details are part of the narrative of the epic struggles of the old man.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial