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Young Adult Lit WebQuests

Book Summary of Rodman Philbrick's The Young Man and the Sea

Twelve year old Samuel "Skiff" Beaman, Jr. is a determined young man trying to survive after his mother's recent death and his father's subsequent depression.  Skiff is forced to become an adult as he desperately tries to get his father to get back into the family fishing business.

Skiff raises the Mary Rose after it sinks with the help of a kindly old man, Mr. Woodwell.  Amos Woodwell instructs Skiff on how to raise the boat, overcoming many construction-related adversities.  Once done, Skiff and Amos proceed to do the necessary repairs, but neither Skiff nor his father have the money to repair the diesel motor.  Overhauling the engine will cost five thousand dollars!  Young Beaman decides to use his ten foot skiff to earn the money trapping lobsters.  His lobster trapping business is soon sabotaged by Tyler Croft, a rich kid bully who does not like Skiff because his family is poor.  Samuel is discouraged but does not give up. 

One day, while at the marina, he sees an amateur fisherman who caught a large bluefin tuna, which can sell for over a hundred thousand dollars.  This gives Samuel a brilliant idea.  He makes plans to head out to sea in his ten foot skiff with a borrowed harpoon from Mr. Woodwell.  He will hunt the great bluefin tuna!

Twenty five miles out to sea, he runs into thick fog and realizes that he had forgotten to take a fog horn.  He makes the best of his situation by putting out baits for the tuna, but he is soon ready to head home after he realizes his foolish lack of preparation.

When it seems that all hope is lost, bluefin tunas are attracted to his bait.  After several attempts resulting in exhaustion, he manages to harpoon a large size tuna.

Once he harpoons the tuna, he is thrown overboard and nearly drowns.  Skiff manages to climb back aboard his small skiff, and is taken on a Nantucket Sleigh Ride until the tuna tires out.

Now he is able to tow his tuna back to shore, but runs out of gas.  His only option is to row the boat back to shore.  He faces a fierce internal battle of alternating doubt and hope, just like Hemingway's Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea.  Can his weary arms manage to tow the priceless beast of a fish back to shore?  Throughout the whole ordeal, Skiff hears his mother's voice in his head, telling him to not give up and live by three rules:  1.  Think smart, 2. Speak true, and 3. Never give up.

This story is about courage, survival, and the adventure of deep sea fishing off the coast of Maine.

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updated: February 14, 2007
December 19, 2005