What does the reader learn about the characters of the narrator and the old man in "Old Man at the Bridge"?Consider dialogue, actions, and imagery.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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"The Old Man at the Bridge" is one of author Ernest Hemingway's shortest stories, so the background of the characters is quite limited. We know that the old man has never ventured far from his little village from where he has just walked to escape the impending enemy advance. The old man's strength is gone, and he can walk no further. Yet, he worries more about the safety of the animals he has left behind than for his own. The narrator (Hemingway) cannot convince him to move on toward Barcelona, so he decides that "there was nothing to do about him." The narrator has his own life to worry about, and he realizes that the animals that the old man cares for have a better chance of survival now than the old man. In the end, the narrator leaves the old man waiting for his impending death at the bridge. The old man's loving nature is evident, as is the narrator's own ambivalence about what he deems is just another future casualty of war.