Old Man and the Sea Study Guide Answers
DAY ONE: PAGES 9-25
Who is Santiago? Describe his physical appearance and personality.
He is an old fisherman who has “gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”(9) He has been deemed “unlucky” by others in the community. Santiago’s is described on pages 9-14: o “thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck;” o “brown blotches of benevolent skin cancer;”
o “his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish;” o “everything about him was old except for his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.” o Santiago has “hope,” “faith,” “confidence,” “humility”, and “true pride”
Who is Manolin (the young boy)?
Manolin was taught how to fish by Santiago, and had been working alongside him until Santiago had gone forty days without catching a fish. His parents told him that he is to work with a luckier boat. Manolin considers Santiago to be the best fisherman, “There are many good fishermen and some great ones. But there is only you.”(23)
Describe Santiago’s relationship with the young boy.
Santiago cares deeply for the young boy, and vice versa, “It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty…the boy loved him.”(9-10) Manolin takes care of Santiago even after he is no longer able to fish with him.
Describe Santiago’s home. What does it say about him as a man?
Described on page 15: “one room…made of tough budshields of the royal palm…in it there was a bed, a table, one chair, and a place on the dirt floor to cook with charcoal.”
Much like his home, Santiago is simple and tough. Although he is old and lives on the good will of others, he manages to endure and survive.
Why do the other fishermen make fun of or pity Santiago?
Santiago is an outsider due to his age and his streak of bad luck. While some pity him for this, others mock his repeated and failed attempts to catch fish each day.
Who does Santiago admire and why?
Santiago admires the sport of baseball, and especially Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees. He looks up to DiMaggio because his father was also a fisherman, so he may understand the hardships that Santiago is undergoing at the present moment.(22)
What does Santiago dream of? Why is this dream important to Santiago?
Santiago no longer dreams of women, fish, or of fights, but of “the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them like he loved the boy.”(25) This dream is important to Santiago because it reminds him of his childhood and because the lions are like him, a hunter.
DAY TWO: PAGES 25-54
Why can the reader consider Santiago a superior fisherman? Give examples.
o “He was rowing steadily and it was no effort for him…” (30) o “He kept [the lines] straighter than anyone did…there would be bait waiting exactly where he wished it to be…”(32) o “he was still fishing correctly through faster then he would have fished if he was not trying to use the [man-of-war bird].”(33) o He knows that the flying fish and birds signal a big school of dolphin.(34) o “he was happy to see so much plankton because it meant fish.”(35)
3. How does Santiago describe the sea? How is this different from other fishermen?
He refers to the sea as “she” and states that “she is kind and very beautiful. But she can be so cruel…He always thought of her as feminine [la mar] and as something that gave or withheld great favours, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them.”(29-30) The younger fishermen refer to the sea “as el mar which is masculine,” when they have had a good day at sea. (30)
4. How does Santiago compare himself to a turtle on page 37?
“…a turtle’s heart will beat for hours after he has been cut up and butchered…I have such a heart too and my feet and hands are like theirs.”(37) Like the turtle,...
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