In Old Man and the Sea, there is both internal and external conflict. The old man is fighting both the fish and his guilt for catching the fish. Later on in the story, there is conflict between the old man and sharks.
The causes for these conflicts are pretty straitforward. With the fish, the conflict is caused because the fish is very big and strong. The old man, being an old man, has a lot of difficulty keeping the fish on the line and pulling him in (Hemingway 44). The internal conflict is also because the fish is so great. The old man respects the fish's strength and power, and because of that respect he feels guilty for trying to kill the fish (Hemingway 38). After he catches the fish, because the fish was bleeding, sharks come to feed on it.
The losses of these conflicts are pretty big. The old man may have won his conflict with the fish, but the certainly looses the conflict with the sharks. Because of that loss the old man's entire fish is eaten. It is hard to say what is lost in his conflict with his guilt, but I think it definitly caused the old man sadness to have to kill the fish, and even more sadness when the sharks ate something he had such respect for (Hemingway 55).
The gains of these conflicts were a little hard for me to see. Out of his conflict with the fish, the old man catches a magnificent fish, so perhaps he gained a little more confidence and some pride. I guess that because of his triumph over the fish he was able to break his unlucky streak, well, in a way. Because he finally caught a fish the boy decidesto go fishing with him again. The two are very close, so I would call that a gain.
I think part of what I like about this book is that the conflict does not end in all gain for the main character. Instead, like in real life, some things are lost too.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. New York: Scribner, 2003. Print.