In The Old Man and the Sea, how long was the marlin?

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The answer to this question can be found near the story's end. Santiago has battled and battled. He makes his way back into the docks area with what is left after his heroic fight with the fish and battle to get it back home. Unfortunately, little of the fish is...

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The answer to this question can be found near the story's end. Santiago has battled and battled. He makes his way back into the docks area with what is left after his heroic fight with the fish and battle to get it back home. Unfortunately, little of the fish is left. Nevertheless, one of the men is able to jump down and measure the skeletal remains of the giant fish. It measured 18 feet at that point.

Many fishermen were around the skiff looking at what was lashed beside it and one was in the water, his trousers rolled up, measuring the skeleton with a length of line.

[...]

“He was eighteen feet from nose to tail,” the fisherman who was measuring him called.

The size of it is astounding, and the proprietor makes a comment about there never having been such a fish before. Santiago's efforts were heroic to have battled a fish that size. To put that into perspective, three men that are each 6 feet tall could be stacked on top of each other to equal the length of that fish. Santiago even comments that the fish is larger than his entire boat.

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Santiago realizes as soon as his fish truly takes the bait that he has caught a very special fish. As he works to raise and tire his catch, he wonders how large the fish truly is. Finally, the fish jumps out of the water and Santiago is able to see the magnificent creature. "'He is two feet longer than the skiff,' the old man said."

After Santiago has returned to his village with his skiff and the remains of the marlin lashed to its side, he collapsed in sleep inside his shack. However, the villagers who had not been through the ordeal with him gathered to inspect and react to what they could only imagine.

"'He was eighteen feet from nose to tail,' the fisherman who was measuring him called." So, the marlin was eighteen feet long, which means the skiff was sixteen feet in length. The name "skiff" is given to a small fishing boat, so this is a reasonable length for Santiago's boat.

 

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