Old Man at the Bridge

by

Ernest Hemingway

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Themes and Colors
Life, Death, and War Theme Icon
Alienation Theme Icon
Religion and Morality Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Old Man at the Bridge, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Life, Death, and War

In “Old Man at the Bridge,” the narrator—a soldier in the Spanish Civil War—tries to convince an old man sitting on the side of the road to get himself to safety before the fighting arrives. While the narrator clearly worries that the old man will die if he stays there, the old man isn’t worried about his own safety; instead, he worries aloud about the animals he left behind when he fled his hometown…

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Alienation

The title character of “Old Man at the Bridge” has no family, no politics, and nowhere to go. The violence of the Spanish Civil War has forced the old man to flee his hometown and his beloved animals, which are seemingly the only sources of joy in his life. He sits by the side of the road while others flee, apparently resigned to dying there when the violence arrives. The story implies that it’s…

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Religion and Morality

“Old Man at the Bridge,” a wartime story set on Easter Sunday, is full of both implicit and explicit references to Christianity. However, none of the story’s characters seem to have faith in God or practice Christian morality, and all of the story’s Christian references wind up corrupted: the doves that symbolize peace and hope have an uncertain fate, the old man evokes the Good Shepherd but he fails to care for his flock, and…

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