The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway
The Old Man and the Sea Strength and Skill Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Day.Paragraph). We artificially created chapters by defining "days," because there are no chapter breaks in The Old Man and the Sea. Here’s how we divided up the days:
- Day 1 = the start of the book until the old man falls asleep for the night
- Day 2 = begins when the old man wakes up and goes until sunrise of the next day
- Day 3 = begins at sunrise and goes until the old man dreams about the lions
- Day 4 = begins when the old man wakes and ends when the old man gets back to his shack for the night
- Day 5 = begins with the boy seeing the old man in the morning and goes until the end of the book
The odds would change back and forth all night and they fed the negro rum and lighted cigarettes for him. Then the negro, after the rum, would try for a tremendous effort and once he had the old man, who was not an old man then but was Santiago El Campeon, nearly three inches off balance. But the old man had raised his hand up to dead even again. He was sure then that he had the negro, who was a fine man and a great athlete, beaten. And at daylight when the bettors were asking that it be called a draw and the referee was shaking his head, he had unleashed his effort and forced the hand of the negro down and down until it rested on the wood. The match had started on a Sunday morning and ended on a Monday morning. Many of the bettors had asked for a draw because they had to go to work on the docks loading sacks of sugar or at the Havana Coal Company. Otherwise everyone would have wanted it to go to a finish. But he had finished it anyway and before anyone had to go to work. (3.90)
The old man gained prestige and respect from his strength, not his fishing skill.
For a long time after that everyone had called him The Champion and there had been a return match in the spring. But not much money was bet and he had won it quite easily since he had broken the confidence of the negro from Cienfuegos in the first match. After that he had a few matches and then no more. He decided that he could beat anyone if he wanted to badly enough and he decided that it was bad for his right hand for fishing. He had tried a few practice matches with his left hand. But his left hand had always been a traitor and would not do what he called on it to do and he did not trust it. (3.91)
The old man recognizes which parts of his body are not strong, and sees this as a personal treachery. By separating himself from the faulty limb, he remains a strong individual in his own mind.
Now I will rest an hour more and feel that he is solid and steady before I move back to the stern to do the work and make the decision. In the meantime I can see how he acts and if he shows any changes. The oars are a good trick; but it has reached the time to play for safety. He is much fish still and I saw that the hook was in the corner of his mouth and he has kept his mouth tight shut. (3.111)
The old man uses cunning and thoughts to fight against the fish more than he uses strength.