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The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

Perseverance Theme

The old man’s battle with the fish is not only a battle of strength, but a battle of wills. The old man makes up for his old age with incredible endurance, willing to withstand hunger, physical pain, and isolation from the rest of the world as he battles the fish. Endurance becomes a way we connect the old man and the fish he fights, as they share a determination that, in its magnitude, separates them from other people and creatures.

Questions About Perseverance

  1. What exactly is the old man so determined to do? OK, "catch a fish" doesn’t count. Why catch the fish? What is he determined to do it for?
  2. Does the old man’s determination pay off?
  3. Take your answer to question one. Got it? The new question is…does he achieve this?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although the old man is physically inferior to the fish, he wins because he possesses a greater will.

The old man loses the fish because, in his determination to succeed, he violated the implicit rules of his profession.

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