Chapter 1 Summary

In 1930s Havana, three Cubans approach Harry Morgan and Eddy with the proposition of smuggling some revolutionaries into the United States. Morgan refuses, stating that he will not smuggle anything than can talk. The Cubans, particularly one named Pancho, take offense because they think he believes they will talk. They leave with veiled threats.

As the Cubans exit, gunfire erupts from a car across the square. Morgan jumps behind the bar and watches the gun fight. Morgan takes a drink from a bottle then leaves out the back, avoiding the gathering crowd. He goes down to the dock and boards a boat. He finds Johnson (who has chartered Morgan’s boat for a fishing expedition) on board. Johnson asks where Eddy is. Morgan did not see him after the shooting started but does not think he was hit. Soon Eddy reaches the boat; he has not been shot but he does not look good and does not want to talk about what happened.

Johnson wants to go out fishing even though he has not caught anything significant in three weeks. Morgan is resigned because at least Johnson pays. A Black man who had been getting bait for the boat comes and also boards, and the men cast off. The Black man baits the hooks, and Johnson is impressed with his skill. In the open sea, flying fish present a good sign, so Morgan tells Johnson to put out his bait as the boat sails along. Morgan warns Johnson to keep the rod in the socket on the fishing chair in case of a big strike.

Morgan assures Johnson that it is a good day to get a fish. Johnson is skeptical and says boat captains such as Morgan always have an excuse for not catching fish. Morgan replies that there is usually a good reason for not catching fish. As Morgan gets Johnson a beer, he sees a huge marlin come up. Morgan directs Johnson as he tries to get the fish to take the bait. When the fish is hooked, it heads off toward shore. Johnson keeps insisting that the fish is gone, but Morgan urges him to keep...

(The entire section is 570 words.)