Study Guide

The Old Man and the Sea Pride

By Ernest Hemingway

Pride

In The Old Man and the Sea, pride and humility are not mutually exclusive qualities. The old man is declaratively characterized as humble, yet he "suffers no loss of pride" in being so. Later, however, his pride is referred to as "long gone." The text asks us to consider what it means to be proud. Humility seems to be a beneficial characteristic, as it keeps the old man sound and rational in his decisions on the sea. Santiago also briefly wonders if pride is a problem, if killing for pride makes the act a sin. This raises the question: Is he killing the marlin out of pride? Or does he have different motivations—like an empty belly, perhaps? 

Questions About Pride

  1. Amazingly, the old man seems to be both proud and humble. How is this possible? Does pride help or hurt the old man in his battle against the marlin? What about humility?
  2. Based on his memories and stories, has the old man gained or lost pride over time?

Chew on This

What he has left of pride is the old man’s most essential tool in his battle against the marlin.

The old man is more humble than he is proud.