The Old Man and the Sea Day 2 Summary
by Ernest Hemingway

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Day 2 Summary

Day 2

The moon is still shining as Santiago dresses and walks to the boy’s house to wake him. After the boy carries the gear, which he has helped do since he was five, they have coffee. Santiago is confident this will be the day he will catch a fish. While the boy, Manolin, gets the sardines and baits, Santiago enjoys his coffee, the only sustenance he will have for the day. Other than a bottle of water, the old man brings no food with him on his boat. Eating bores him; water is all he needs.

Manolin returns and Santiago is ready to fish. As he rows he hears others silently rowing as well. He hears the hissing of the flying fish, his “principle friends in the ocean.” He feels sorry for the birds who are always looking but rarely finding; he believes the ocean is too strong for such delicate creatures. The Spanish name for the ocean is la mar, which is what the old man calls her as a term of endearment. Those who see fishing as just a business call it el mar, the masculine name. Others speak unkindly of her, but Santiago does not. He sees the ocean as a woman, good-natured but often capricious.

He has rowed quickly, and he stops where the albacore and bonita school. He hopes for a big marlin among them. His baits are out, one at forty, one at seventy-five, and one at one hundred, and the last at one hundred twenty-five fathoms. The baits are on the hooks and the sardines are covering any exposed steel; everything on the hook is tempting, and each line rests on a stick so he will see it dip when a fish pulls on the bait. He has more than three hundred fathoms of line coiled in his skiff.

As the sun rises, Santiago rows steadily to keep the baits in straight lines, unlike those of other fishermen. He has had no luck, but he thinks he would rather be exact than lucky: “then when luck comes you are ready.” He continues rowing and sees only a few other boats, much closer to shore. A man-of-war bird is circling nearby, and Santiago rows in that direction. Flying fish leap and they are too quick for the bird; a great school of dolphins is chasing the flying fish. Santiago baits a small hook with a sardine in hopes of catching something smaller; he hopes his big fish is somewhere near him. Below him in the water he sees plankton, which is a sure sign of fish; he also sees stinging jellyfish, something he hates. Turtles eat the bad jellyfish, and Santiago loves turtles. Though they are slow they are not stupid, and their heart beats for hours after they have been butchered. Santiago eats the turtles and the eggs in May to be strong for the fall fishing season. Each day he also drinks a cup of fish liver oil from the common barrel; most fishermen do not like the taste, but Santiago knows the oil will help him stay healthy.

Suddenly fish start jumping and frothing the water ahead of the boat, and the small line the old man dropped is heavy with an albacore. Santiago swings him into the boat. He tells himself the ten-pounder will make a good bait, and then he thinks about when he began talking to himself. He probably began when the boy left him, but he knows he is not crazy. This is no time for daydreaming, though, and he watches the fish move quickly to the northeast. He must fish well today to break the unlucky streak.

(The entire section is 1,171 words.)