The Old Man and the Sea Additional Summary

Ernest Hemingway


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

The Old Man and the Sea is in many ways Hemingway’s most controlled piece of writing. Short and direct, it is the story of Santiago, who essentially is alone throughout the story. Manolin, the boy who usually assists him, has been ordered by his father not to work with the old man after Santiago goes for forty days without a catch. Manolin still comes to see the old man, but he no longer sails with him.

The story opens on the eighty-fourth day since Santiago has caught anything. He survives on the food that Manolin buys him from the money he steals or begs from tourists. Manolin also makes sure that Santiago has bait. As they eat their meager repast, Santiago and Manolin reminisce about happier days, remembering good catches and Joe DiMaggio and other pleasant things from their past.

That night, Santiago dreams of tigers rather than of his wife, now some time dead. He wakes to set out for his eighty-fifth day of fruitless fishing. Fishing is all he knows, so he has no choice. The details of the morning and of the sea are flawlessly presented. Hemingway transports his readers to Santiago’s small boat. Through Santiago’s eyes they see the man-of-war birds flying over a school of dolphin leaping in the aim to snag flying fishes. They are moving faster than Santiago can go, so there is no hope that he will change his luck by catching a dolphin.

As the morning wears on, Santiago hooks one small fish. He is encouraged by this tiny triumph, taking it as a sign that his luck might be changing. His baited line is deep below the surface, a full hundred fathoms down. He waits. The sun beats down hotly upon him as it inches toward its zenith. Then, around noon, something takes the bait. Santiago knows from the feel of the line that he has hooked a big fish.

Rather than coming to the surface, the hooked fish tows Santiago’s boat in a northwesterly direction, continuing this action into the night. Santiago braces himself for a night of struggle, drawing the line across his shoulder. He eats small pieces of the raw tuna he had caught earlier. At a sudden jerk on the line, Santiago’s right hand is gashed across the palm. His fingers cramp. He waits for the sun to warm him.

The next morning, Santiago sees his marlin for the first time. It leaps in the air, and Santiago knows the...

(The entire section is 957 words.)


Initially appearing in a special November 1951 issue of Life Magazine, The Old Man and the Sea was published in book form in 1952. It encompasses the exploits of its title character—the old, impoverished, but admirable Cuban fisherman Santiago—over the course of three days. While Santiago is not the novel’s narrator, the tale is related from his perspective and through his consciousness.

At the novel’s start, we are told that Santiago’s luck had gone bad, that he had not caught a marlin or any other fish for eighty-four days. So poorly had he fared that his young protege, the boy Manolin, had been forced to leave his mentor to work on another boat. Nevertheless, Manolin’s affection for the...

(The entire section is 507 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The Old Man and the Sea is one of the most popular and moving works of the twentieth century. When The Old Man and the Sea...

(The entire section is 156 words.)

Unlucky Boat

(Novels for Students)

The Old Man and the Sea tells the story of Santiago, an aging Cuban fisherman, who alone in his small boat faces the most difficult...

(The entire section is 230 words.)

The Truly Big Fish

(Novels for Students)

Early one morning the old man rises, shares coffee with the boy, and sets out for the far reaches of the fishing grounds. He passes all the...

(The entire section is 611 words.)

Destroyed But Not Defeated

(Novels for Students)

Now many miles out to sea, the old man lashes the great fish to the side of his skiff and sets his small sail for home. After about an hour...

(The entire section is 209 words.)