The Old Man and the Sea Day 1 Summary
by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea book cover
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Day 1 Summary

Santiago is an old man, worn and weathered by the sun and by life, but his eyes are still hopeful and spirited. He is a fisherman who has gone eighty-four days without catching a fish; he is seen as the worst kind of unlucky. After forty days, the young boy who was fishing with the old man was forced to go to another boat. Now Santiago fishes alone. Each day as the old man’s skiff arrives, the boy feels sad for him and helps him carry his gear from the dejected-looking boat: “The old man had taught the boy to fish and the boy loved him.”

Today the boy is hopeful that he can fish with Santiago again, but Santiago knows the boy’s father will not allow it. As they walk, the boy reminds the old man about the time he went eighty-seven days without a fish and then caught a fish every day for weeks. Santiago remembers and tells the boy he knows it was not the boy’s choice to leave the unlucky boat. The boy offers to buy a beer for Santiago, so they stop at the Terrace. The younger fishermen make fun of the old man; the older ones look at him sadly. Those who already made their catches for the day have butchered their marlins and prepared them for the market in Havana; those who caught sharks have taken them to the nearby shark factory.

It is pleasant on the Terrace. Though he cannot fish with Santiago, the boy wants to help and offers to get the sardines for tomorrow’s fishing. Santiago says the boy has done enough. They grow nostalgic, remembering when the boy was five and was nearly killed when Santiago brought in a big fish too soon. The boy begs to get four fresh sardines; Santiago compromises and says he may get one. The boy insists and they settle on two, paid for by the boy. Santiago wonders when he learned to be humble but knows it is part of who he now is, and he is not ashamed to accept such help.

The boy says tomorrow he will pretend to see something on the distant horizon so his captain will go far out to sea and they will be able to help Santiago if he needs it. Santiago believes he is strong enough to handle a big fish alone and says he knows many tricks if he needs to use them. They make their way with some of the gear and the mast to the old man’s home, a simple shack made of palm, sparsely furnished. On one wall are pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Virgin of Cobre. These belonged to his wife; he has put the picture of his wife away because it makes him too sad. There is little else in the room.

The boy asks a few usual questions and gets the usual answers. What will the old man eat? A pot of yellow rice and fish. Can he take the cast net for the old man? Of course. It is a charade, for they both know there is no rice and fish, and the cast net was sold long ago. They discuss their favorite pastime—baseball. The Yankees are the old man’s favorite team. They discuss buying a lottery ticket with the number eighty-five because they feel lucky about tomorrow’s fishing. Santiago sits in the sun reading a newspaper that has been given to him while the boy gets the sardines.

When the boy returns, he sees the old man has fallen asleep. He drapes a blanket around his friend’s strong, weathered shoulders. He leaves Santiago sleeping and brings them back some...

(The entire section is 944 words.)