The Old Man and the Sea


Key Facts

Title: The Old Man and the Sea

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Type of work: Novella/short story

Genre: Fiction, parable, tragedy

Language: English

Year written: 1951

Place written: Cuba

Date of first publication: September 1, 1952

First publisher: Life magazine

Narrator: Anonymous

Narrator's point of view: Third-person omniscient

Tone: Informative, yet respectful and sympathetic

Tense: Past

Setting: The late 1940s

Location: A fishing town near Havana, Cuba; the Gulf of Mexico

Protagonist: Santiago

Antagonist: The marlin; the sharks

Primary conflict: Santiago spends three days battling the biggest fish he has ever tried to catch on his own.

Exposition: Santiago has gone 84 days without catching a fish, which has made him an outcast in his fishing village, as well as lost him his young assistant.

Rising action: Santiago tells his young assistant that he will go far out into the sea and is still strong enough to catch a big fish. He does find a large marlin who takes his bait, but he can't reel it in. The fish spends three days towing him out to sea instead.

Climax: When the marlin starts circling Santiago's small boat, Santiago musters up enough strength to harpoon him, killing the huge fish.

Falling action: Santiago rows back to his village with the marlin's body, but sharks follow the body's bloody trail and eat it. Even the sight of the marlin's majestic skeleton is enough to earn back the respect of the village fishermen, however, and...

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