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

The Old Man and the Sea book cover
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What is the meaning of the passage that begins, "He lay in the stern and steered and watched for the glow to come in the sky," and ends, "He tried to settle more comfortably to steer and from his pain he knew he was not dead" in The Old Man and the Sea?

In The Old Man and the Sea, this passage shows the eponymous old man at sea, feeling as if he is already dead and battling with his own mind. The meaning of the passage mostly links to the themes of loneliness and perseverance.

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In this passage, the old man conducts a dialogue with himself, which indicates how lonely he has become. He has nobody else to speak with, and his loneliness is emphasized by the fact that he is, at this moment, surrounded by only the vast expanse of the sea. Toward the end of the passage, the old man wishes that he could see "the glow from the lights." Here, he is referring to the lights of the city. The lights symbolize civilization and companionship but also hope. At this point in the story, the old man is hopeless and is surrounded both literally (because it is night-time) and metaphorically...

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