The Old Man and the Sea

Ernest Hemingway


The Old Man and the Sea tells the story of an unlucky old fisherman, Santiago, who lands the catch of a lifetime. Being unsuccessful in catching a single fish for months, Santiago's young apprentice has been forbidden from fishing with him by his parents. But, determined that his luck will end, he ventures far out into the Gulf Stream and sets his lines. Hours after the lines are set a fish takes his bait and based on his inability to pull in the great fish he assumes it must be a marlin of enormous size. The fish is so big in fact, that it begins to pull Santiago's small boat with it far out into the ocean. Santiago fights with the fish for three days until it finally tires and he is able to kill it with his harpoon. On his journey back to shore, the blood from the great marlin attracts sharks that Santiago fights off for hours, until there were too many and the marlin is completely devoured. Upon his return, a new sense of admiration for the old man is found among the community because of his miraculous achievement.


Hemingway is able to write so descriptively and simply that you barely realize you are reading a book. The Old Man and the Sea is not a long book, only about 100 pages which is nice if your attention span is less than awesome. The constant struggle Santiago has with the marlin really makes you feel like you are out there fighting with the fish yourself and when he finally slays it, the weight of the world falls off your shoulders. It was an excellent read and I would encourage everybody to take some time and read a true, simple, classic.



Santiago is the main character in the book. He is an unlucky old fisherman, one of the most humble people in the community and shows pride in his abilities despite his misfortune. His life has been full of challenges and in defeating the great marlin, he completes his greatest challenge yet.


Manolin is a young boy apprenticed to Santiago, but because of Santiago's bad luck, his parents do not allow him to fish with Santiago. He first went out to sea with Santiago at five years old and still deeply cares for the old man despite his parents. He is full of admiration for Santiago as a mentor and friend and is overwhelmed with joy when Santiago returns back to shore safe.

The Marlin

The struggle with the marlin makes Santiago feel bonded to the fish as if it were his brother, showing just how devoted to his craft the old man is. Santiago feels love and respect for the fish and when he finally defeats it and it is devoured by sharks, he feels as if he has been entirely destroyed.

Favorite Passage

“He always thought of the sea as 'la mar' which is what people call her in Spanish when they love her. Sometimes those who love her say bad things of her but they are always said as though she were a woman. Some of the younger fishermen, those who used buoys as floats for their lines and had motorboats, bought when the shark livers had brought much money, spoke of her as 'el mar' which is masculine.They spoke of her as a contestant or a place or even an enemy. But the old man always thought of her as feminine and as something that gave or withheld great favours, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them. The moon affects her as it does a woman, he thought.”

I really admire this passage because he is comparing the sea to a woman and how you treat it like a woman and it will treat you back like a woman. This really speaks to how deeply devoted to fishing and being on the sea he is.