He was an old man who fished alone in

CBSE Board Class 12 English Un-Solved Passages

Chapter – 3  Reading Comprehension III (Literary Passages)

Read the following passage carefully:

The Old Man And The Boy

1. He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff, a small light boat, in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish the boy’s parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky, and the boy had gone at their orders in another boat which caught three good fish the first week. It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around the mast. The sail was patched with flour sacks aid. furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.

2. The old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck. The brown blouches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his checks The blotches ran well down the sides of his face and his hands had the deep creased cars from handling heavy fish on the conds. But none of these wears were fresh. They were as old as the erosions in a fishless desert.

3. Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same colour as the seo and were cheerful and undefeated.

4. ‘Santiago’ the boy said to him as they climbed the bank from where the skiff was hauled up. ‘I could go with you again. We’ve made some money’. The old man had taught the hoy to fish and the boy loved him.
‘No’ the old man said, ‘You’re with a lucky boat. Stay with them’.

‘But remember how you went eighty-seven days without fish and then we caught big once every day for three weeks?’

‘I remember’, the old man said. ‘I know you did not leave me because you doubted’.

‘It was papa made me leave. I am a boy and must obey him’.

‘I know, the old man said. It is quite normal’.

‘He hasn’t much faith’.

‘No’ the old man said. ‘But we have. Haven’t we’?

‘Yes’, the boy said. ‘Can I offer you a beer on the Terrace and then we’ll take the staff home.’

‘Why not?’ the old man said. ‘Between fishermen’.

5. They sat on the Terrace and many of the fishermen made fun of the old man and he was not angry. Others, of the older fishermen looked at him and were sad. But they did not show it and they spoke politely about the current and the depths they had drifted their lines at and the steadygood weather and of what they had seen….

Ernest Hemingway The Old Man and the Bea teatruct)


A. On the basis of your understanding of the passage answer the questions given below by choosing one of the options that follow:

(i) The novel begins by recounting because of

(a) the affinity of the old man and the boy.

(b) how the young fisherman made fun of the old man..

(c) the details of the old man’s weather-beaten face and body.

(d) the bad luck the old man had on fishing trips.

(ii) The boy who was helping the old man was forced to leave him because:

(a) another boat offered him better terms.

(b) he doubted his fishing skills.

(c) the old man’s ill luck might affect him.

(d) his father had ordered him to do so.

(iii) The boy loved the old man because:

(a) his father was a bully and ordered him about.

(b) the old man had taught the boy how to fish.

(c) he had watched the fishing skills of the old man

(d) he considered him a master fisherman.

(iv) The undefeated and cheerful eyes of the old man:

(a) marked a startling difference from his thin lined body,

(b) presented a contrast to his blotched skin.

(c) showed his faith in God.

(d) reflect his full faith in himself and the change in his luck.

(v) Fishless desert in para 2 means:

(a) a desert without fish

(b) a sea without fish

(c) less fish in a desert

(d) less fish in a sea

B. Answer the following questions briefly:

(i) Why did the old man reject the boy’s offer to join him?

(ii) How did other fishermen take the old fisherman?

(iii) How was the old man’s sail a permanent defeat?

(iv) Why was the boy forbidden by his parents to go with the old man?

(v) Describe the old man’s appearance.

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