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A Summary of The Old Man and the Sea

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 2/14/2012

Use this summary of The Old Man and the Sea to review Hemingway's Nobel Prize winning novel.

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    Summary of Old Man and the Sea: Days One and Two

    Ernest Hemingway won a Nobel Prize in Literature for writing this novel. I did not win anything for writing this Old Man and the Sea summary. Why you would rather read my non-award winning summary of The Old Man and the Sea instead of the Nobel Prize award-winning novel boggles the mind. This Old Man and the Sea Summary does, however, make a good review for class discussion.

    Day One: Santiago has not caught a fish for 84 days. Everyone thinks he's a loser except for his young friend Manolin whose father will not let him fish with Santiago. Apparently it's tough to make money as a fisherman's assistant when the fisherman you work for hasn't caught a fish for 84 days.

    Manolin helps Santiago in other ways: he helps him with his gear; he supplies Santiago with fresh bait; he fetches Santiago's dinner. Santiago reads the newspaper and glories in the success of Joe Dimaggio. Manolin leaves. Santiago sleeps and dreams of lions on the beaches.

    Day Two: Santiago awakes and feels confident. He bids farewell to Manolin and sets his course. He sails far off into the Gulf Stream, making friends with fish, birds, and the sea. He catches a ten-pound tuna which he uses as bait. He talks to himself and wonders if he's crazy (which isn't half as crazy as talking to fish), not recalling when he had begun the habit.

    A large fish takes the bait and pulls Santiago out to sea where he can no longer see land. Santiago struggles to hold the fish by holding the line taut in his hands and bracing it with his back. He struggles all night and begins to admire the fish. He longs for Manolin.

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    Summary of Old Man and the Sea: Days Three, Four, and Five

    Enjoy this Old Man and the Sea Summary of Days 3-5.

    Day Three: The marlin surges and nearly pulls Santiago into the water. Realizing he must keep up his strength, Santiago eats some tuna from the day before. He laments the weakness of his own body but is strengthened by the food. He wishes the marlin could dine with him.

    The fishing line cuts Santiago's hands. The struggle continues and Santiago voices his admiration for his worthy opponent. He thinks of Joe Dimaggio and his determination to keep playing despite bone spurs. He casts another line, catches a dolphin, clubs it, and saves it for a later meal. Santiago begins to worry that he will lose his mind if he does not sleep.

    Day Four: The fish lurches forward and wakes Santiago who flies face forward into the dolphin he had caught the prior day. He painstakingly reels in the marlin, harpoons it, kills it, and straps it to the side of his skiff. He thinks of the money the fish will bring him at market.

    Santiago sails home. A Mako shark arrives and takes a chunk of the marlin before receiving a harpoon to the head. The shark sinks and takes the harpoon with him. Santiago realizes he caught the fish for nothing as other sharks show up to get a bite of the marlin. As numerous sharks arrive, Santiago fights them, but to no avail. The marlin is devoured and Santiago realizes he had gone out too far.

    He arrives to the harbor with only a skeleton to show for his work. He struggles to take his skiff to his shack. He finally arrives, exhausted, and sleeps.

    Day Five: Manolin arrives at Santiago's shack and notifies him that the Coast Guard had been searching for him and that the marlin skeleton measures 18-feet. Manolin resolves to fish again with Santiago, regardless of what his parents think.

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The Old Man and the Sea Study Guide

If you haven't gotten an 'A' in 84 days, you need to look at this study guide. Be careful. Sharks will devour it after one whiff.
  1. A Summary of The Old Man and the Sea
  2. Symbolism in The Old Man and the Sea
  3. Themes in The Old Man and the Sea
  4. Important Quotes from The Old Man and the Sea
  5. The Old Man and the Sea Analysis: Characters in The Old Man and the Sea