Study Guide

The Old Man and the Sea Day One

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Day One

  • First of all, the old man doesn’t have a name. So he will henceforth be known as...The Old Man. Wait, make that the old man. No capitals.
  • So about this old man: he hasn’t caught a fish in 84 days. Which can be debilitating when fishing is your livelihood.
  • They call him salao, which basically means "really, really, ridiculously unlucky."
  • There’s a boy without a name who feels bad for the old man. These no-namers need to stick together. So the boy helps the old man out.
  • We get some physical description of the old man: wrinkly, blotchy, and eyes the color of the sea.
  • OK, so he does have a name after all, but only the boy uses it, not the text. Were you wondering what this name was? Read your book.
  • Ugh, fine. It’s "Santiago."
  • Turns out the man taught the boy to fish. You know, before he stopped being able to himself. The boy loves the man in return.
  • There was another fish dry spell in the past, but it ended. Maybe this one will, too. Then again...
  • They sit on "the Terrace" and the other fishermen make fun of the old man. But he’s unfazed.
  • In case you were wondering what that stench was, there’s a shark factory nearby.
  • The boy keeps trying to help the old man, but the old man wants the boy to just watch out for himself.
  • Some reminiscences between them: When the boy was five, they caught a HUGE green fish that nearly tore the boat apart.
  • P.S. The boy? He’s not related to the old man. He has his own mother and father.
  • The boy buys some sardines for the old man.
  • OK, in case you haven’t read Hemingway before, you should know something about his sentences. They’re about ten words long and never beat around the bush.
  • For example, you are directly told that the old man is 1) humble, and 2) proud. Hmmm…
  • The old man and the boy discuss the fishing for the next day, and how the old man has good eyesight despite being old and having "gone turtling," which we all know is BRUTAL on the eyes.
  • A cliffhanger question is raised: is the old man too old to handle a big fish?
  • The old man seems to have some prestige around the town; it’s noted that people in the town would never steal from him. But he locks his stuff up anyway.
  • Next, we get to see the old man’s shack, which isn’t exactly the Ritz-Carlton, what with the tree-made walls and the dirt floors.
  • He’s got some religious items on the wall that used to be his wife’s. He can’t bear to have her picture up on the wall because he’s lonely. So we’re thinking she died.
  • The old man and the boy discuss what to have for dinner.
  • There is no dinner.
  • What a charade.
  • They discuss baseball – Yankees and DiMaggio.
  • They note that tomorrow will be day 85 of no fish. That’s optimistic as far as tomorrow is concerned. Also, the fisherman’s personal record is 87. Not that it’s the kind of record you want to have.
  • The old man says that he could not possibly get to day 87 a second time.
  • It’s September, by the way. Which any astrologer knows, as the old man does, is the month of really, really, ridiculously big fish.
  • The boy checks out to go get sardines. When he comes back, the old man is sleeping.
  • The boy covers him up with a blanket, noting the strength of the old man’s shoulders.
  • When the old man wakes up, they talk about dinner again. The difference is, this time, there actually is dinner.
  • Turns out "the owner," named Martin, gave them the food. This is not a first time occurrence. They should pay him back, they think, just as soon as they catch a really, really, ridiculously big fish.
  • The boy berates himself for being thoughtless and plans to get the old man more clothes for the upcoming winter (it’s September, remember?).
  • More baseball chit-chat. They were too afraid to take this guy Dick Sisler fishing, and they wish they could take DiMaggio fishing.
  • The old man is all, "You think you’re cool? I was on a ship in Africa when I was your age." Except he’s a lot nicer than that. He also saw lions in Africa. Keep that in mind.
  • Mmmm – back to baseball.
  • But then onto age, and how old people get up really early.
  • The old man sleeps on newspapers, and uses newspapers as a pillow, which is not the most comfortable thing in the world.
  • The old man dreams of Africa, and the lions on the beaches.
  • He used to dream of fish and his wife and other women, but now he ONLY dreams of places, and lions. But mostly lions.

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