The Old Man and the Sea
Ernest Hemmingway
Contributed by Harvey Landy
Chapter 9

The great fish comes to the surface only thirty yards away from the boat. Its tail, larger than a big scythe blade, rises above the surface, its dorsal fins down, and his huge pectorals spread wide. The fish, like the old man, was prepared for a fight. This time, the old man could see the fish’s eyes, and the two gray sucking fish that constantly swam around it.

Santiago continues to get line on every turn the fish made and begins sweating in anticipation of the confrontation that was sure to transpire sometime within the next few turns. Soon, he would get an opportunity to attack with the harpoon. But to do so, the fish must be extremely close to the boat - the fish was so large, than only a strike to the heart would kill it. The old man calls for the cooperation of all his body parts, from his hands to legs to head. With each pass, Santiago pulls on the line as hard as he can to flip the fish on its back, so he can plunge the harpoon into its heart. But every time, the fish manages to flip itself over before he gets a chance. "Fish, you are going to have to die anyway. Do you have to kill me too?" says the old man. His mouth is almost too dry to speak, but he could not reach the water jug. He begins to doubt how long he can last under such extreme exertion. But he does not resent the fish for trying to kill him. The old man believes that the fish is the greatest, most beautiful, most noble thing he has ever encountered, and thus he does not care who kills whom.

The old man feels his vitality decreased with every unsuccessful turn. His hands were mushy now, and he could only see well in brief flashes. His mind struggles against his body, which wanted to give in under all the stress. Finally, he pitted all of his pain, strength, and long gone pride against the fish’s agony, and it swam on its side just past the front of the boat. Santiago drops the line, grabs the harpoon, and drives it into the fish with all his strength into the fish’s side. The fish comes alive with the sharp thrust. It leaps above the water, and comes down with a splash that blanketed the skiff. But then the great fish’s struggle is over. A cloud of blood from its heart spreads through the ocean water, and the silvery, still corpse floated with the waves.

Have study documents to share about The Old Man and the Sea? Upload them to earn free Studypool credits!