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

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In what specific ways does the old man in The Old Man and the Sea struggle with physical ailments and difficulties? Why or how can this be meaningful to you?

In The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, the old man struggles with physical ailments and difficulties such as sore shoulders, a cut under his eye, cuts on his hands, cramped hands, a stiff, painful back, hunger, weariness, and loneliness. The old man's struggles can be meaningful for readers because they can learn the importance of courage and persistence when attempting to reach their goals.

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The classic short novel The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway tells of a very old fisherman named Santiago who goes all alone far out to sea off the coast of Cuba. He hooks a huge marlin and spends two days struggling with it. On the third day, he manages to get it to the boat and kill it. However, after he ties it to the side of the boat, sharks attack. Santiago fights them, but they eat most of the marlin, and he comes back to port with nothing more than the giant skeleton.

One of the difficulties Santiago encounters during his ordeal with the fish is that he is all alone. A boy used to go out with him, but after the old man went a long time without catching a fish, the boy's parents insisted that he go with another boat. While he is being towed by the marlin, Santiago wishes that he had the boy with him. He considers that "no one should be alone in their old age." If the boy had been with Santiago, his struggle with the marlin and then with the sharks would have been easier.

Once he has hooked the fish and is being towed, Santiago cannot let go of the line. It becomes very uncomfortable. He arranges a sack across his shoulders where the line is so that the line is not so uncomfortable on his skin. Once, while Santiago is tying lines together, the fish surges and a line cuts his face below the eye. However, the blood soon coagulates and dries up. The old man's back becomes stiff in the night, and afterwards, it hurts him considerably. The old man's hand gets cut from the line, and he has to soak it in seawater. He cannot soak it for long, though, because he has to keep his hands on the line. His hands also begin to get cramped. He becomes concerned when the hand doesn't lose the cramp right away, because he needs the hand to bring in the fish.

The old man forces himself to eat some raw fish, because he knows that he will lose his strength if he doesn't. He becomes very weary, but he cannot sleep or he will lose the marlin. When he finally does fall asleep, he wakes up with the line going out and burning his hands.

The speed of the line was cutting his hands badly but he had always known this would happen and he tried to keep the cutting across the calloused parts and not let the line slip into the palm nor cut the fingers.

Santiago takes all these discomforts stoically, though, saying to himself, "Pain does not matter to a man." Perhaps the worst pain that the old man experiences is the psychological pain when the sharks eat the great fish that he has caught.

In conclusion, we see that the old man experiences great physical hardship, but that he endures and catches the fish despite the pain and discomfort. This can be meaningful to readers as life lessons. It is important to have persistence, patience, resolve, and courage when pursuing important goals in life.

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