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

The Old Man and the Sea book cover
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In The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway, is the old man courageous or foolish?

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mitchrich4199 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is a good question. It certainly depends on your opinion as to whether he should have gone out in the first place. You could argue that he goes out fishing with a strong sense of pride, which would make it very foolish. Take that further and look at the fact that he didn't let go of the fish or cut it loose and you almost can't say its anything but foolish. However, he does make it back alive. He's a fisherman and that is his life. If he gives the fish up, he gives up his life--he's got nothing really to live for. In that sense, I'd say that once he's out there, he might as well go for it and that makes him courageous.

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