Old Man at the Bridge Summary Analysis and Explanation by Ernest Hemingway

Old Man at the Bridge Story Summary in English and Hindi Pdf. Old Man at the Bridge is written by Ernest Hemingway.

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Old Man at the Bridge Story Summary in English by Ernest Hemingway

Old Man at the Bridge About the Author

Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 in America. He was a novelist, short story writer and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. Additional works, including three novels, four short story collections, and three non-fiction works, were published posthumously. The Old Man and the Sea is considered classic of American literature.

Ernest Hemingway

Old Man at the Bridge About the Story

All about the Story Old Man at the Bridge:
The story ‘Old Man at the Bridge’ is in the form of conversation between a soldier and an old man. The writer takes the ordinary detail and transforms it into a powerful story about the tragedy of war. The old man in the story becomes a symbol of countless civilians who perish in war.

The story ‘Old Man at the Bridge’ is related through a conversation between a soldier and an old man who had to leave his hometown during the Spanish Civil War. During the war there was panic and anxiety all around. Everyone was aware of the impending death. An old man with spectacles sat exhausted by the side of a road near a pontoon bridge that crossed the river. The soldier got engaged in conversation with the old man. During the conversation he came to know that the old man was worried about his animals that he had left behind. The old man told the soldier that he had the charge of two goats, a cat and four pairs of pigeons. He said that a captain had told him to leave the town and the animals because of artillery fire. He had no family but he expressed concern about what would happen to his animals. He said that the cat would be all right because cats could look after themselves, but he did not know what would happen to his other animals.

The soldier was concerned about the old man’s safety whereas the old man was concerned about his animal’s safety. He told the soldier that he was an old man of 76 and had come 12 kilometers and was too tired to walk up the road and catch a ride on a truck to Barcelona. The old man thanked the soldier for his concern for his safety but he continued to express his concern over the fate of the animals he had left behind. The old man remained obsessed with the thought about the safety of his animals. At the end of the story the soldier felt pity for the old man and thought “There was nothing to do about him.” He realized that he could not remove the old man’s concern about the safety of his animals. The story reflects the theme of depression and impending death.

Old Man at the Bridge Summary in English

The conversation between a soldier and an old man
The story ‘Old Man at the Bridge’ is related through a conversation between a soldier and an old man who had to leave his home town during the Spanish Civil War. During the war there was panic and anxiety all around. Everyone was aware of the impending death. An old man with spectacles who had walked 12 kilometres from his hometown sat exhausted by the side of a road near a pontoon bridge that crossed a river. Carts, trucks and men, women and children were crossing the bridge. Peasants, refugees and Republican soldiers laden with munitions and supplies fled the advancing Fascist army. The narrator, who said that his mission was to cross the bridge and find out how far the enemy had advanced, did so. He saw the old man sitting beside the bridge when he crossed toward the enemy. He found him still sitting there when he crossed back. He began talking to the old man and came to know that his hometown was San Carlos. He was the last person to leave the town, as he was anxious about his animals.

Old Man at the Bridge Summary
Old Man at the Bridge Summary

The narrator asks the old man about his animals
The narrator, who was nervously awaiting the advent of the Fascist army and the ensuing battle between the armies, asked the old man about his animals. The old man said that he had charge of two goats, a cat and four pairs of pigeons. He said that a captain had told him to leave the town and the animals because of artillery fire. He also told the narrator that he had no family. He, then, expressed concern about what would happen to the animals. He said that the cat would be all right because cats could look after themselves, but he did not know what would happen to the other animals.

Old man’s Political Views
The narrator, who was more concerned for the old man’s safety than those of the animals, enquired what the old man’s .politics was. The old man replied that he had none. He told the narrator that he was an old man of 76 and had come 12 kilometres and was too tired to go further. The narrator told him to walk up the road and catch a ride on a truck to Barcelona.

The old man expresses his thanks to the narrator
The old man thanked him, but continued to express his concern over the fate of the animals he had left behind. The narrator reassured him, saying the animals would be fine. The narrator told him that the pigeons would fly away, but the old man continued to worry about the goats. The narrator told him that it was better not to think about them and that he should get up and walk to the trucks and leave that place. He thanked the narrator and got to his feet, swayed from side to side and then sat down backwards in the dust. He reflected his obsession about the fate of his animals when he remarked that ‘he was only taking care of animals’. The narrator felt pity for the old man and remarked that there was nothing to do about him. He thought that the old man’s only luck was that cats could look after themselves and that the day was overcast, so the Fascists were unable to launch their planes.

Old Man at the Bridge Word Notes and Explanations

pontoon – a temporary floating platform
staggered – walked with unsteady steps
plodded – walked slowly
mysterious – strange
artillery – heavy guns moved on wheels
hurrying down – moving down quickly
blankly – disinterestedly
cage – a structure made of wires in which animals are kept
fascist – a person who supports an extreme right wing political system
Ebro – the name of a river

Old Man at the Bridge Theme

The story ‘Old Man at the Bridge’ deals with the themes of resignation, depression and impending death. This theme is reflected in a conversation between a soldier and an old man who had to leave his hometown during the Spanish Civil War. The old man is gripped by panic and anxiety. He is a fatalistic hero of the story who is resigned to his fate as a casualty of war. When the soldier who is concerned about the safety of the old man tells him to walk up the road and catch a ride on the truck to Barcelona, he tells him that he is an old man of 76 and is too tired to go further. So he resigns himself to his fate. Then the soldier reflects that he is sure to be killed once the Fascists advance to the bridge across the Ebro. His life is prolonged by the fact that the day is overcast and the Fascists cannot launch their planes. His mind is eased by the fact that cats can look after themselves, but aside from that the soldier says that nothing can be done for him and his death seems certain.

The soldier seems more affected by the inevitability of the man’s probable fate than by the old man. On the other hand, the old man is worried about the fate of his animals. He can’t get rid of the thought of safety of his animals. This gives him depression. When the soldier tells him that it is best not to think about his animals, he is unable to stop thinking about them. This leads him to depression.

At the close of the story the narrator bemoans the old man’s impending death. He asks him to walk and catch a ride on the truck to Barcelona, but the old man expresses his inability to walk due to fatigue. The soldier begins to feel pity for him and says, “There was nothing to do about him.”

Old Man at the Bridge Title

The title of the story ‘Old Man at the Bridge’ is very appropriate because the story revolves around the old man who has left his hometown during the Spanish Civil War and has arrived at the bridge for safety. It is at the bridge that the narrator engages the old man in conversation. The old man expresses his concern about the safety of his animals that he has left behind. He thinks that the cat will be all right, but he is worried about the safety of the other animals. The narrator is worried about the safety of the old man whereas the old man is worried about the safety of his animals. The narrator asks the old man not to think about his animals and to get up and walk to the trucks and leave that place, but the old man who has already walked 12 kilometers on foot expresses his inability to walk due to fatigue. He remains at the bridge. Thus the story has an apt title.

Old Man at the Bridge Message

In this story ‘Old Man at the Bridge’, the author wants to convey his opposition to war because war spreads panic and anxiety all around. Everyone becomes aware of the impending death.

Confusion and chaos prevail everywhere. During the Spanish Civil War, an old man with spectacles sits exhausted by the side of a road near a pontoon bridge. The soldier gets engaged in conversation with the old man. During the conversation the soldier comes to know that the old man is worried about the fate of his animals that he had left behind. The soldier is concerned about the safety of the old man whereas the old man is concerned about the safety of his animals. He tells the old man to get up and catch a ride on a truck to Barcelona.

He wants the old man to save his life. But the old man who is 76 and has walked 12 kilometers tells the soldier that he is too tired to walk and catch a ride on a truck. The old man thanks the soldier for his concern for his safety, but he continues to express his concern over the fate of his animals that he had left behind. At the end of the story, the soldier feels pity for the old man and thinks, “There was nothing to do about him.” The story reflects that war brings depression, anxiety and scare of death. So the author expresses his opposition to war. He conveys a message that war should be opposed and avoided.

Old Man at the Bridge Character Sketch

THE OLD MAN

  • 76 years old, healthy and physically fit
  • leaves his hometown due to the Spanish Civil War
  • no family, but loves his animals, worried about the safety of the animals during war
  • not worried about his own safety
  • a fatalist
  • obsessed with the thought of his animals’ safety
  • victim of war
  • reconciles himself with his impending death

The old man, the protagonist of the story ‘Old Man at the Bridge’, is a healthy and energetic old man of 76. He is physically fit and agile. During the Spanish Civil War, he has to walk 12 kilometers from his hometown to the bridge. He has to leave his place because a captain told him to leave the town because of artillery fire during the Spanish Civil War.

He has no family but he loves his animals. He has the charge of two goats, a cat and four pairs of pigeons. He is forced to leave his farm and animals behind. But he is worried about the safety of his animals. During his conversation with the soldier at the bridge, he reveals that he is not worried about the safety of his own life because he is a fatalist; but he expresses his deep concern about the safety of his animals. He tells the soldier that he is not worried about the cat because cats can look after themselves, but he is worried about the fate of other animals. He cannot get rid of the thought about the safety of his animals. This thought makes him depressed and sad.

The old man symbolizes the men and women who have to leave their homes as victims of war with which they have nothing to do. The old man is a victim of the war like the goats because the goats, unlike the pigeons, can’t fly.

He reconciles himself with his impending death. When the soldier asks him to catch a ride on a truck to Barcelona to save his life, he refuses to do so. The soldier takes pity on him and says “There was nothing to do about him”. Thus he is worried more about the safety of his animals than his own safety.

THE NARRATOR

  • a scout and dutiful soldier
  • engages himself in conversation with the old man
  • worried about the safety of the old man during the war
  • advises the old man to leave the place and save himself
  • feels pity for the old man
  • expresses his helplessness to do anything about the old man
  • bemoans the old man’s impending death

The narrator in the story ‘Old Man at the Bridge’ is the soldier who comes in contact with an old man at the bridge where people are crossing to flee from the Spanish Civil War.

The soldier is a scout whose duty is to cross the bridge and find out how far the enemy has advanced. He engages himself in conversation with the old man.

During conversation, he comes to know that the old man is worried more about the safety of his animals whom he has left behind in his home town than his own safety. On the other hand, the narrator is worried about the safety of the old man. He tells the old man to take a ride on a truck to Barcelona, and save himself but he refuses to do so. The narrator feels sad about the inevitability of the old man’s fate and feels pity for him, saying “There was nothing to do about him”. He bemoans the old man’s impending death. The conversation reflects the old man’s fatalism and the narrator’s despair in a subtle manner.

Old Man at the Bridge Critical Appreciation

Conversational Form
The story ‘Old Man at the Bridge’ is related through a conversation between a soldier and an old man who had to leave his hometown during the Spanish Civil War. The conversation takes place at the bridge where the soldier is performing his duty.
The story conveys the problems faced by people as victims of war in the form of a dialogue. The conversation advances the story further and takes it to its logical conclusion. The theme of the story and the characteristic traits of the two characters involved in the conversation are revealed through conversation.

First Person
The story is written in the first person and narrated by a nameless soldier whose duty is to observe the advancing of the enemy. The soldier has captured the atmosphere of war and the helplessness of the people as victims of war in
his conversation with the old man who was forced to leave his hometown and animals behind. He has explored the region and the situation by suggestive hints. The first person narrative helps the reader to identify with the scene of threat and helplessness.

Metaphors and Symbols
The story abounds in metaphors and symbols. One of the symbols is the bridge which represents uncertainty and dangers. The pigeons symbolise peace and harmony and the fact that they fly away, from the war, may be a reference to the refugees who flee from the war to a safer place. The cat is a symbol of independence who does not need anybody to survive, but the goat is often used as a sacrificial animal and this probably represents the old man who reconciles himself with his impending death.

Language
The story is narrated in a conversational form and the language used is simple. But several simple words are symbolic in significance. The style is lucid and intelligible. The dialogue between the soldier and the old man takes the story forward. The simple conversation reveals the characteristic traits of the speakers and reflects the theme of the story.

FAQs on The Old Man At The Bridge Summary

Question 1.
Why does the old man express his worry about his two goats

Answer:
The old man expresses his worry about the two goats because he knew that the cats could look after themselves

Question 2.
What is the message of the story old man at the bridge?

Answer:
“The Old Man at the Bridge” by Ernest Hemingway is the tragedy of war. The author’s intention is to illustrate the way wars disrupt the lives of innocent people who are caught up in the middle, but also the way it frustrates those who cannot do anything about it (0bservers and foreigners)