Study Guide

The Old Man and the Sea Day Two

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Day Two

  • He wakes up freezing and has to pee outside. Sorry, it’s "urinate."
  • The old man wakes the boy by...holding his foot.
  • Ooh, the nameless boy has a name after all. It’s "Manolin." At least, that’s what the old man calls him. The text still calls him "the boy."
  • The boy helps the old man carry stuff, and by "stuff" we mean boat gear.
  • The old man drinks coffee, knowing it is all he will eat all day.
  • By the way, they are up really, really early. The moon’s still out.
  • As he rows out in his skiff, the old man muses on the sights, smells, sounds – i.e., all his senses are working and acute.
  • He likes the flying fish. But not as much as he likes the birds, who are "looking and almost never finding." They’re the only creatures he can think of who have it worse than he does.
  • The ocean is cruel. And the birds are delicate. Is that a haiku?
  • About the ocean: everyone thinks of the ocean as a woman. That is, all the old, wise people. The arrogant youngsters call the ocean a man.
  • The old man rows really well. That’s what a life on the ocean will do to you.
  • He uses the sardines to set bait lines at different depths in the water. This guy really knows what he’s doing.
  • Ooh, great line about luck and skill. The old man would rather have skill, but he still believes in luck.
  • Again, we hear about his eyes – the sun hurts them, but they’re still good eyes.
  • He sees a man-of-war bird circling above, and he thinks the bird must "have something."
  • The something turns out to be a flying fish.
  • The old man perceives a dolphin in the water.
  • The bird can’t catch the fish, he decides, because the fish are too big and fast.
  • Screw these little flying fish. The old man wants a big honkin’ one.
  • The old man sees a man-of-war jellyfish and calls it a whore.
  • Beautiful, that jellyfish, but dangerous. The old man likes to see the sea turtles eating them. He also likes to step on them on the beach. The jellyfish, that is.
  • He likes things with "elegance" and "speed," but hates slow lumbering things.
  • Some important stuff: the old man compares himself to the sea turtles, because their hearts beat after they are cut up into little pieces. Feeling sorry for them does not, however, preclude eating their eggs.
  • Tuna! Not a tuna sandwich on rye, but a school of tuna that the old man pursues.
  • He catches a tuna. So much for reaching day 88. He can kiss that record good-bye.
  • OK, just kidding. This fish doesn’t count. He uses it for bait for a bigger fish, which is kind of like a guy with a gambling problem putting the chips he just won back on the table.
  • By the way, the old man has been talking to himself since, oh, let’s see...the moment he left the boy on the shore. We didn’t really notice until he pointed it out to us by wondering how many years he’s been talking to himself.
  • This goes against a fisherman credo thingy that says don’t talk unless you have to on the sea.
  • He’s allowed to seem like he’s crazy since no one is around to tell him he’s crazy.
  • As if the tuna were not enough, suddenly there’s a marlin pulling on one of the lines way the hell down deep. Know what a marlin is? It’s a really, really, ridiculously big fish.
  • There’s about three pages of hoping the marlin eats the sardines and hasn’t gone away, might have gone away, but didn’t, then might have gone away again, and so on. Lots of tension, anyway. Tension, like the fishing line...
  • The old man shows off his prowess. His fishing prowess. And he’s superstitious.
  • The old man taunts the fish verbally, with phrases like "eat it well."
  • Then he pulls on the line, hard. How hard? There’s about two paragraphs telling you if you feel so inclined. Old Man vs. Fish begins at high noon. Or possibly medium-low noon.
  • The old man momentarily wishes the boy were there.
  • Cut to four hours into the match. Old Man is holding Fish steady.
  • The old man talks about "the glow from Havana." In case you didn’t know where this was all taking place.
  • He repeatedly wants to know what the fish looks like, what he is up against.
  • Keep in mind – the whole time this is going on, the man has the line stretched taut across his back. This is excruciating work, and it continues into the cold night.
  • He realizes the boat is moving in the current; he can’t see land anymore, but he’s not about to let this ginormous fish go for a trivial little problem like drifting out to sea.
  • He stops to pee.
  • He wonders about baseball and wishes he had a radio to give him the news.
  • He tells himself that he has to eat the tuna in the morning, no matter what, to stay strong.
  • The old man muses on the strength of the fish. Is the fish thinking about him, he wants to know.
  • He remembers this one time at band camp when he hooked a male and female marlin together.
  • What happened is he clubbed the female to death, and then the male jumped up to see how she was doing. The old man, who was with the boy at the time, felt sad.
  • He wishes again that the boy were there.
  • There’s some rocking thoughts on choices – what was the fish’s choice, what was the man’s choice?
  • Sometime before sunrise the next day, one of the other lines gets taken. The old man has no time to mess around with whatever ten-pound tuna might have snagged it, so he cuts it loose with one hand, and does lots of other impressive one-handed things, like handstands and cartwheels and juggling, all while holding the line with the massive marlin.
  • But then he thinks, aw...I wonder what that other fish was that I just let go.
  • He wishes AGAIN for the boy. That makes three.
  • He has to do some advanced fisherman stuff, namely "cutting away" and "hooking up the two reserve coils."
  • We’re now at hour 15 or so of Old Man vs. Fish, and we have no idea if it’s round one or two or if these guys even play by those rules. And in this hour fifteen, Fish scores a massive set of points by surging forward and cutting the old man below the eye (with the line). Blood follows.
  • The man talks to the fish now. He’ll stay with him until he’s dead. Himself, not the fish. Well, whichever one comes first.
  • He keeps comparing himself to the fish – he presumes the fish is thinking the same "to the death" thoughts that he is.

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