Following are the “Old Man at the Bridge Workbook Answers” to the questions of extracts, offering a comprehensive exploration of Ernest Hemingway’s poignant short story. Our responses aim to provide clarity and enhance your understanding of this literary masterpiece. Each question is carefully addressed, shedding light on the emotional complexities of the characters and offering insights into the human experience amid war. Join us on this journey to unravel the layers of “Old Man at the Bridge” and gain a deeper appreciation for Hemingway’s exploration of human resilience.
Old Man at the Bridge Workbook Answers
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
(i) What is a pontoon bridge? Why are many people crossing the bridge?
A pontoon bridge is a structure made of large hollow containers filled with air. Many people are crossing the bridge to reach a safer place amidst ongoing artillery, as seen during the Spanish Civil War.
(ii) Where is the old man sitting? Unlike others, why doesn’t he move?
The old man is sitting by the side of the road at the pontoon bridge. He doesn’t want to move because, at seventy years old, he’s exhausted from walking twelve kilometers since leaving his hometown, San Carlos.
(iii) Who is the speaker in the above extract? Why is he there?
The unnamed narrator, an army scout, is the speaker. He is on a mission to cross the bridge and gather information about how far the enemy has advanced during the Spanish Civil War.
(iv) What is the first question that the narrator asks the old man? What does he answer? Why does the old man smile?
The narrator’s first question is, “Where do you come from?” The old man responds, “From San Carlos.” His smile stems from the pride and pleasure of mentioning his native town.
(v) Why is the old man the last one to leave his town? Describe his physical appearance.
The old man is the last to leave because he stayed to care for his animals. He appears old, alone, with a grey and dusty face, wearing black dusty clothes and steel-rimmed spectacles.
(i) Who is referred to as He in the extract above? In what condition is he?
“He” refers to the old man in the above extract. He is in a weary condition, wearing black dusty clothes and steel-rimmed spectacles, with a face turned grey. His exhaustion is evident as he has walked twelve kilometers and is too tired to move further.
(ii) What animals did he own? what kind of relationship did he share with them?
He owned two goats, a cat, and four pairs of pigeons. These animals were not just his pets; they were his family. He treated them with love and care, considering them integral members of his household.
(iii) What did he do with the animals? What forced him to do so?
He opened the cage for pigeons and left his animals in his native town, San Carlos. The heavy firing from the enemy during the war forced him to make the heart-wrenching decision to leave his beloved animals behind.
(iv) Why doesn’t the old man cross the bridge and escape to a safer place?
The old man refrains from crossing the bridge and seeking safety because he has already traveled twelve kilometers and is too fatigued to continue. Weak and with no family, he feels helpless and has resigned himself to his fate after leaving his animals behind.
(v) What do incidents in the story show about the consequences of the war? How does war affect the old man and his animals in the story?
The incidents in the story reveal the grim consequences of war. The old man represents civilian victims of war, losing everything meaningful to him. The war takes away his family of animals, leaving him alone and helpless. The old man, like his goats, cannot escape the destructive impact of war, showcasing the inhumanity that conflicts impose on civilians during such times.
(i) What does the old man mean when he states, “I am without politics”? Why does he mention his age?
The old man means that he is an innocent civilian unaffected by political affiliations or ideologies. He mentions his age, along with the fact that he has walked twelve kilometers, to emphasize his weariness and the insignificance of political matters in the face of personal struggles.
(ii) Describe the old man’s appearance. What was he doing in San Carlos?
The old man wore steel-rimmed spectacles and black and dusty clothes, and his face was grey with dust. In San Carlos, his native town, he was residing with his animals, taking care of them as a part of his daily life.
(iii) The narrator says “This is not a good place to stop”. Which place is he referring to? Why is not advisable to halt there?
The narrator is referring to the war zone at the pontoon bridge across the Ebro River. It is not advisable to halt there due to the heavy enemy firing, making it a dangerous and vulnerable location.
(iv) What advice does the narrator give to the old man? How does the old man react to it?
The narrator advises the old man to cross the bridge and catch a truck to Barcelona. However, the old man replies that he does not know anyone in that direction. Despite expressing gratitude for the suggestion, the old man remains concerned about the fate of the animals he left behind.
(v) Explain why the old man finally resigns to his fate. What is the old man’s fate symbolic of? do you think the old man could have changed his fate? Give reasons to justify your answer.
The old man resigns to his fate as he is overwhelmed by worry for his animals, choosing not to take any action. His fate symbolizes the plight of innocent victims of war who are powerless in the face of conflict. While the old man could have changed his fate by crossing the bridge and starting anew, his deep concern for his animals and weariness ultimately lead him to surrender to the inevitable. The symbolic weight of his character suggests that in the broader context of war, individuals often face circumstances beyond their control, even if alternatives are available.
(i) Why does the old man look blank and tired? How can you say that the old man needed someone to talk to?
The old man looked blank and tired due to his deep worry about the safety of his animals in San Carlos. He needed someone to talk to because, in his sadness and guilt, he sought solace and a sympathetic listener to share his feelings.
(ii) What is the cause of the old man’s worry and guilt?
The cause of the old man’s worry was the safety of his animals left in San Carlos, exposed to heavy enemy firing. He felt guilty for leaving his responsibilities unfulfilled, pondering how the animals would fare without him.
(iii) Explain how the story brings out the conflict between man and his inner self.
The story highlights the conflict within the old man as he grapples with the decision to abandon his animals for self-preservation during the war. This inner turmoil showcases the struggle between fulfilling personal responsibilities and the instinct for self-preservation. Additionally, the broader conflict between individuals during wartime, where one man inflicts suffering on another for the perceived greater good, adds another layer to the narrative.
(iv) The old man seems to have given up on his life. Do you agree? Why?
Yes, the old man appears to have given up on life. Despite having a chance to live by crossing the bridge and seeking safety, he remains indifferent, preoccupied only with the fate of his animals. This signifies a surrender to his circumstances and a lack of will to continue living without the companionship of his beloved animals.
(v) How does the narrator try to relieve the old man of his worries? Does he prove successful? Support your answer with instances from the story.
The narrator attempts to relieve the old man by engaging in conversation, inquiring about the dove cage, and reassuring him about the animals’ well-being. Despite the narrator’s efforts, he is unsuccessful. The old man remains fixated on his worries, expressing his dull resignation, indicating that the narrator’s attempts to console him fall short.
Explore more Educational Blogs
(i)Why does the narrator note that the old man spoke ‘dully’?
The narrator notes that the old man spoke dully because the old man had lost all hope and was filled with guilt for not being able to look after his animals. His tone and expression reflected a low spirit, indicating a lack of enthusiasm or energy in his speech.
(ii) What makes the narrator feel that “there was nothing to do about him”?
The narrator feels that “there was nothing to do about him” as the enemy is advancing with artillery, and despite the narrator’s advice to leave, the old man refuses to abandon his place. The narrator is helpless in changing the old man’s decision, realizing that the circumstances are beyond his control.
(iii) State how both the narrator and the old man are depicted as helpless by the end.
Both the narrator and the old man are depicted as helpless by the end. The narrator is unable to relieve the old man of his worries or change his decision to stay. The old man, in turn, is helpless to save his animals or altering the course of events. They both share a sense of powerlessness in the face of the war’s impact on their lives.
(iv) What is “all the good luck that old man would ever have”?
“All the good luck that old man would ever have” refers to the fact that the sky was overcast on Easter Sunday, creating a low ceiling that prevented enemy airplanes from flying. Another stroke of luck mentioned is that cats can take care of themselves. These elements are ironic, considering the imminent danger and the old man’s focus on his animals’ welfare.
(v) The story is set on an Easter Sunday, which symbolically shows renewal and peace. How is it ironic concerning the events in the story? State another example of irony in the story.
The story being set on Easter Sunday, symbolizing renewal and peace, is ironic because, for the old man, this day means inevitable death and destruction. Another example of irony in the story is the image of the resurrected Christ, symbolized by the doves being released from their cage, representing hope and peace. However, the soldier bitterly remarks that “all the good luck that old man would ever have” is that enemy artillery planes could not fly that day, indicating a lack of hope and peace for the old man.
In conclusion, the journey through the “Old Man at the Bridge workbook answers has unveiled a profound understanding of Hemingway’s masterful storytelling. As we close this exploration, the answers serve not only as responses to questions but as keys to a richer appreciation of the timeless themes woven into the fabric of the story. “Old Man at the Bridge” stands as a testament to the power of literature to illuminate the human experience, offering readers a reflection on sacrifice, guilt, and the indomitable spirit in the face of adversity.