The Star Thrower

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"The Star Thrower" (or "starfish story") is part of a 16-page essay of the same name by Loren Eiseley (1907–1977), published in 1969 in The Unexpected Universe. The Star Thrower is also the title of a 1978 anthology of Eiseley's works (including the essay), which he completed shortly before his death.

The original story[edit]

The story describes the narrator walking along the beach early one morning in the pre-dawn twilight, when he sees a man picking up a starfish off the sand and throwing it into the sea. The narrator is observant and subtle, but skeptical. He has the last word, a pessimistic conclusion. Some excerpts:


Later, after some thoughts on our relationships to other animals and to the universe, the narrator says:

..."On a point of land, I found the star thrower...I spoke once briefly. "I understand," I said. "Call me another thrower." Only then I allowed myself to think, He is not alone any longer. After us, there will be others...We were part of the rainbow...Perhaps far outward on the rim of space a genuine star was similarly seized and flung...For a moment, we cast on an infinite beach together beside an unknown hurler of suns... We had lost our way, I thought, but we had kept, some of us, the memory of the perfect circle of compassion from life to death and back to life again - the completion of the rainbow of existence" (The Star Thrower, p.181).

The story as adapted[edit]

The story has been adapted and retold by motivational speakers and on internet sites, often without attribution, since at least the mid 1980s.[1] In this version the conversation is related between other characters, an older man and a younger one, a wise man and a little girl, or Jesus and a man.

It was also adapted into a children's story in 2006. Called, "Sara and the Starfish." It re-tells the story from the eyes of a young girl as well as the starfish itself, though the moral of the story is the same as the original idea told by Eiseley.

Publication data[edit]


  1. ^ Dean, Amy (1986). Night light. Hazelden Publishing. ISBN 9780894863813. 

External links[edit]