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The Old Man and the Sea Summary: A Quick Overview


This is a story by Ernest Hemingway that shows the struggle of a fisherman to make the greatest catch of his whole life. This text, therefore, presents a detailed synopsis of the story.

A Well-Extracted Plot Overview

For 84 long days, a fisherman by the name Santiago has gone fishing in the sea only to come back with nothing. He is an old man. He has become so unlucky to the point where his apprentice would have to abandon him to fish in a more successful boat. The boy still cares for the man despite the this and is there to help him every single night to store the gear. He even gets food for the man and also discusses American baseball with him. Santiago still believes that his unsuccessful streak will soon end. He even decides to go even further out in the sea the next day. On day 85 he fulfills his promise to sail further and goes to the deeper waters of the gulf. He gets his lines ready and lowers them. During noon, his bait catches a fish named Marlin. The fish is normally big and takes this bait deep in the sea. The old man is unable to pull the fish into the boat and instead, the Marlin starts pulling his boat.

The old man is not able to tie the line to his boat since he fears that the marlin will break a taut line. He, therefore, endures the pain of the line on his shoulders, hands and also his back. The fish keeps pulling the boat all day and night. It does this for another day and another night. The fish swims northwest for some time steadily until it tires and then results to swimming east the direction of the current. Santiago is in pain this whole time from the line. Every time the fish leaps or lunges or tries to swim to freedom, the line cuts him badly. Even though he is wounded and tired, the man admires the marlin, who he now viewed as a brother in the suffering since both were in pain.

The fish becomes exhausted when the third day came. Santiago who had lacked sleep and was constantly in pain pulls the fish close such that he would be able to kill it using a harpoon. The marlin is the biggest Santiago has ever sighted. He pulls it on to the boat and decides it was time to go back home. He revels at the price the marlin would fetch at the market but becomes concerned that the people who will eat this fish might be unworthy of the greatness.

As the journey continues, the blood from the harpooned marlin trails in the water and attracts the sharks under. Then comes the first attack from a Mako shark, which is harpooned. However, Santiago loses his harpoon and some rope which leads him to become defenceless against the sharks. Santiago fights off several predators with all his might using a spear he had created by merging a knife with an oar. He kills several sharks by stabbing and clubbing them with the tiller of his boat. More and more of the sharks keep coming, and by the time it is night, Santiago realizes that continuing to fight these scavengers was wasting his effort. The scavengers get to the merlin that he had protected so fiercely. They eat the prized meat and only leave the head tail and the skeleton. Santiago reprimands himself for sailing too deep and even for sacrificing the great marlin opponent. He arrives home and immediately gets to sleep.

The following morning there is a crowd of fishermen gathered around the old man’s boat where the carcass of the marlin remained. Some tourist mistake the skeleton for a shark. Manolin, who had become greatly worried by the sudden disappearance of Santiago is relieved an in burst to tears when he finds him asleep in his bed. The boy gets coffee for the man and the papers containing the baseball scores. The man wakes, and the two decide they would be fishing partners again. The old man goes back to sleeping and has his common dream of lions in Africa playing.

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