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The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

Defeat Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

For an hour the old man had been seeing black spots before his eyes and the sweat salted his eyes and salted the cut over his eye and on his forehead. He was not afraid of the black spots. They were normal at the tension that he was pulling on the line. Twice, though, he had felt faint and dizzy and that had worried him.

"I could not fail myself and die on a fish like this," he said. "Now that I have him coming so beautifully, God help me endure. I’ll say a hundred Our Fathers and a hundred Hail Marys. But I cannot say them now. (4.22, 4.23)

The old man fears defeat because of pride – he fears "failing himself," not the fish; nor is he concerned for the need to eat or make money from his catch.

Quote #5

"But man is not made for defeat," he said. "A man can be destroyed but not defeated." I am sorry that I killed the fish though, he thought. Now the bad time is coming and I do not even have the harpoon. (4.93)

The old man draws a distinction between "destroyed" and "defeated," and leaves us wondering which he is, and which the fish is, by the end of the tale.

Quote #6

"Ay," he said aloud. There is no translation for this word and perhaps it is just a noise such as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood. (4.112)

The old man recognizes defeat when it comes, never deceiving himself and always facing reality.

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