Study Guide

The Old Man and the Sea Hunger

By Ernest Hemingway

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The old man is almost superhuman in his eating patterns. He never professes hunger despite eating very little—or not at all. For him, eating is not about pleasure, but is instead a painful act that he must endure for strength. So much for the idea of comfort food. The old man does at one point refer to hunger as pain, but he's talking about the fish’s hunger, not his own. You know what they say: "Teach a man to fish, and he won't eat anything at all." Wait—that doesn't sound quite right...

Questions About Hunger

  1. What’s up with the old man not eating? What effect does it have on the way we view him?
  2. OK, so we get that the old man isn’t hungry for food. But is he hungry for something else?
  3. Why does the old man eat?

Chew on This

In many ways, the old man is an ascetic. His "religion," then, is explored as the story progresses.

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