An old man named Santiago
has gone 84 days without catching a fish. During the first 40 days of his
unlucky streak, he fished with a young boy named Manolin,
who had been with the old man ever since he was five years old. Due to Santiago's bad luck,
however, Manolin's parents told their son not to fish
with the old man. They forced him to join up with a more lucrative boat, which
ended up catching three good-sized fish in its first week.
is a well-worn man. His face and body show the signs of aging, but inside he is
young and alive: "Everything about him was old except his eyes and they
were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated." Page
After making a comfortable amount of money on the new
fishing boat, Manolin tells Santiago
that he wants to fish with him again. He feels bad because he never wanted to
his mentor, but had to honor his duty to his parents to earn some money. Santiago knows that the
boy is loyal to him and never becomes upset by his decision to leave.
Manolin takes good care of Santiago. He makes sure
the old man eats and remains in good health. He tries to give the old man positive
encouragement and makes sure his ego is never wounded. Other local
fishermen either make fun of or pity Santiago.
tells the boy that he will go out into the Gulf in his skiff
because the current will be strong. Superstitious about numbers, Santiago also believes
the 85th day will bring him good luck. Manolin brings the old man some food and
asks him to talk about baseball. Santiago loves the New
York Yankees because his hero, the great Joe
DiMaggio, is on the team. Santiago and the boy
talk about other greats in baseball. The boy then tells Santiago that he is the
greatest fisherman: "There are many good fishermen and some great ones.
But there is only one you." Page
Manolin flatters Santiago and admires his
concedes that he is not as strong as he once was, but he can catch a great fish
due to his resolution and tricks. Manolin puts Santiago to sleep. Santiago has the same
dream he has every night. In his dreams, he drifts off to Africa
where he spent some time as a child. Santiago's dreams used
to be more exciting. However:
"He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women , nor of
great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor
of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions
on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he
loved the boy." Page 25
After waking up, Santiago feels confident
about his fishing journey. Manolin sees Santiago off into the
Section 2 (pg. 28-41)
Late in the night, Santiago sets into the
silent Gulf on his skiff, all by himself. Santiago notices the
creatures around him and is familiar with their company. Santiago has a special
relationship with the sea and its creatures. He thinks of the sea
as a human entity. He notes that younger fishermen think of the sea as el
mar, masculine, their enemy.
"But the old man always thought of her as feminine and
as something that gave or withheld great favors, and if she did wild or wicked
things it was because she could not help them. The moon affects her as it does
a woman, he thought." Page
The old man is determined to capture one big fish. He uses
his thorough methodology to place his lines in the water. Other fishermen are
not as careful as he is and haphazardly throw their lines into the sea. Santiago, regardless of
his bad luck, has never been anything less than precise.
The old man talks aloud to himself while he is out alone on
the water. He is not worried that others will think he is crazy. In fact, for Santiago, being strange
is a way for him to feel special. A bird helps the old man locate a large
albacore tuna, which is a straggler from a larger school of fish. He begins to
think about baseball, but tries to concentrate on his task: "Now is the
time to think of only one thing. That which I was born for." Page
40. He thinks the tuna will lead him to a great fish.
Section 3 (pg. 41-82)
One of the sticks on Santiago's lines dips down
deep. A fish pulls on it and Santiago immediately knows which fish he has
hooked: a giant marlin, 100 fathoms below, which is eating the
sardines around the line. The fish begins to drag the skiff
far out into the northwest of the Gulf. As he's towed by the fish, the old man
says: "I wish I had the boy." Page
thinks this fish might kill him, but four hours later, he is still being towed.
is no longer visible in the distance. Night is falling, and Santiago begins to
admire the marlin and to contemplate catching him: "He is wonderful and
strange and who knows how old he is, he thought. Never have I had such a strong
fish nor one who acted so strangely." Pages
repeats his wish that the boy was with him. He has made a decision to go far
out alone into the Gulf, a decision like the marlin's - to go beyond the traps
and snares. He feels a sense of equality with his catch:
"My choice was to go there and find him beyond all
people. Beyond all people in the world. Now we are joined together and have
been since .
And no one to help either of us." Page
has to remind himself that he does not have the boy with him and must struggle
against the fish himself. The marlin pulls the line and cuts Santiago's eye. He
announces to the fish that he will struggle against him until he is dead. The
fish continues to pull Santiago
further into the Gulf. The greater and longer the two struggle, the more Santiago respects his
adversary: "Fish, I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill
you dead before this day ends." Page
begins to talk to the birds and hopes for their company. The old man is lonely,
tired and in pain. His hand begins to cramp from all of the tension of the line
and he has to force himself to eat the tuna he caught to alleviate his pain and
give himself strength. He talks to his hand as if it is a friend. The marlin
continues to pull the line. Santiago
realizes that the fish is two feet longer than the skiff. Though the man has
seen great fish in his day, he has never seen one this big by himself.
who was never religious, begins to pray so that he may catch and kill the fish.
He begins to feel guilty about his struggle with the fish, but wants to prove
to himself and the fish what he can endure. He wishes he could fall asleep and
dream of the lions. He begins to wonder why he only dreams of
lions at this stage of his life, but quickly refocuses on the marlin. He starts
to think about the Big Leagues in baseball and is motivated by thoughts of his
hero DiMaggio: "But I must have the confidence
and I must be worthy of the great DiMaggio who does all things perfectly even
with the pain of the bone spur in his heel." Page
To give himself confidence, Santiago recalls a time
when he was in Casablanca
and challenged a man to an arm wrestling match. After a very long struggle, he
became el Campeon, the champion. From that experience, he knows that he
can take on any competitor, if he wants victory badly enough.
The old man catches a dolphin and has food for the evening.
His hand begins to hurt less and he feels prepared to make it through the
gets some rest on the boat. He thinks to himself:
"The fish is my friend too. I have never seen or heard
of such a fish. But I must kill him. I'm glad we do not have to kill the
stars." Page 75
He starts to imagine impossible feats like killing the moon
or the sun and feels lucky that his task, in relative terms, is much simpler.
Though he is sad to kill the fish, it doesn't stop him from doing it. The
marlin and other sea creatures, according to Santiago, are his
brothers and he has to kill his brother.
forces himself to eat the dolphin he caught to give him the strength to endure
the battle. He falls asleep, still cramped, and waits for the lions
to appear in his dreams. He is happy when he sees the lions in his dreams
Section 4 (pg. 82-100)
is awoken by a strong pull from the line and hits his face with his fist. His
left hand becomes numb and the fish jumps from the ocean and falls back in
hard. His jumps pull the skiff quickly along. His hands are cut badly,
but he anticipated this move by the marlin
and does not allow the line to slip from his hands. He endures and ignores the
pain. He waits for the marlin to start circling, and when the fish does, Santiago begins to see
black spots before his eyes, the salty sweat from his forehead dripping into
his eyes and cuts. He again prays to God for his help in surviving this battle
against the marlin. He is very fatigued and the fish has dragged him far out
into the Gulf. But he knows he will return: "A man is never lost at
sea..." Page 89
tries to get close to the fish to harpoon and kill him. He will no longer be
able to endure the turns of the circling fish and tells the fish that it is
"You are killing me, fish, the old man thought. But you
have a right to. Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or
more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who
kills who." Page
has to remind himself to keep his head clear and suffer like a man, or fish.
Finally, after a few more circles, the fish gently swims up by the side of the
skiff and Santiago
plants a harpoon in it. Though it is dying, the marlin comes alive for its last
moments and proudly jumps out of the water and falls back in, spraying the old
man and the skiff. Santiago
says he has killed his brother.
His head is still unclear and he still has pain, but feels
good about his victory: "I think the great DiMaggio would be proud of me
today." Page 97
He is still in disbelief about catching the fish. The fish
sail back towards land, side-by-side, as the marlin is latched on the side of
the skiff. This way the two share a proud moment as they return to land. After
only an hour, Santiago
encounters his first shark.
detected the blood from the marlin
and followed the trail to the skiff.
After struggling with the approaching shark, the old man maims him. However,
the shark has already torn apart and devoured 40 pounds of Santiago's marlin. In
the process, the shark also takes the old man's harpoon and rope. It is
difficult for Santiago
to look at his mutilated marlin. He sympathizes with his adversary and feels
like the shark attacked him as well. Though he is proud he hooked the big
marlin, he begins to wish it were all a dream.
says: "But a man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not
defeated." Page 103 He starts to question whether he killed
his adversary because of his intelligence or because he was better armed. He
convinces himself not to think, to continue his journey back and take what
comes to him. Santiago
still questions his bravery and wonders if he can be compared to his hero DiMaggio.
He also wonders whether he has committed a sin by slaying the fish. He cannot
stop thinking and contemplating because he has no other diversions, alone out
at sea. He wonders what motivated him to kill the fish and whether this
motivation was worthy or sinful:
"You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to
sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a
fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love
him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?" Page
More sharks approach Santiago's skiff. He
stabs another one and repeats his wish that he had never caught the marlin,
that this was all a dream. By now, the two sharks have already consumed the
best parts of the marlin. Santiago
talks to the fish, apologizing for going too far out into the sea. He knows
that the fish could have challenged the sharks. As Santiago begins to see
the lights of the city, he acknowledges that if a shark were to attack him, he
would be helpless. He is alone, in the dark and without any weapons. He is
fatigued and hopes not to fight again.
a pack of sharks swims over to his skiff and Santiago begins to club
at the sharks' heads. They eat the last pieces of the marlin and Santiago loses his
breath. He tastes a strange taste in his mouth and is convinced that he will
die. He spits into the ocean and at the sharks.
Section 6: (pg. 119-127)
sailing becomes much easier now, without the marlin attached to the skiff.
He acknowledges his defeat as he sails toward land. He is exhausted and as he
docks the boat, he falls over and lies with the mast on him. He has to stop and
sit five times before he reaches his shack.
Manolin finds Santiago in the shack
face down on his bed. He checks to see if he is breathing and starts to cry
when he sees Santiago's
The other local
fishermen go out and look at Santiago's skiff and
measure the length of the marlin's skeleton. Manolin takes care of Santiago and reassures
him that he was not defeated. Santiago tells Manolin
that he missed him. Manolin has caught four fish in Santiago's absence, but
asks the old man if they can fish together again. Santiago warns him that
he has no luck, and Manolin replies: "To hell with luck. I'll bring the
luck with me." Page 125 Santiago asks what Manolin's family
will think, and the boy tells Santiago he does not care and that he still has
much to learn.
The fish is now just garbage waiting to be thrown away. A
waiter tries to explain Santiago's
heroic tale to tourists who don't comprehend the story. In the shack, Santiago is asleep,
dreaming of lions.
Skiff: The old, rickety boat
on which Santiago
Joe DiMaggio: Santiago's idol. A New
York Yankee (whose father was a fisherman) who always performed his best,
despite injuries and obstacles.
Lions: The great creatures on the beaches of Africa
about which Santiago
loves great and majestic animals and considers them as his peers.
thinks of the sea as a feminine creature because it is temperamental and
is at one with nature.
Sharks: Creatures that attack Santiago, his skiff and
the Marlin as they head back towards the shore. They tear up the flesh of the
Marlin and take some of the glory of victory away from the old man.
Topic Tracking: Fraternalism
Fraternalism 1: Santiago sees the sea as
having human characteristics. His relationship with the sea is as deep as
Fraternalism 2: Santiago and the fish
are equal adversaries. They have been tied together - both literally and
figuratively. They are both alone, with no one to help them, out in the middle
of the Gulf.
Fraternalism 3: Santiago feels guilty
about killing the fish. He thinks of the fish as a fellow brother out at sea
and has to convince himself to kill a brother.
Fraternalism 4: In its last moments of life, the marlin
looks majestic. The old man appreciates the fish's greatness and majesty. Santiago feels sad about
killing his brother.
Fraternalism 5: Santiago contemplates
why he killed the marlin, whom he loved and respected. This troubles him
throughout his struggle and throughout his journey back to land.
Topic Tracking: Paternalism
Paternalism 1: Santiago is a father
figure to Manolin. Manolin is very loyal to Santiago, despite his
bad luck. He recognizes the old man's knowledge and skill and wishes to learn
from him, regardless of his success.
Paternalism 2: Santiago feels sorry for
the Marlin and has almost father's sympathy for the fish after it attacked by
sharks. He has been through so much with the fish that the sharks' attack on it
is like an attack on his own child.
Paternalism 3: Manolin finds Santiago face down on
his bed and starts to cry when he sees the old man's hands. He cares for Santiago like a father
cares for a young son. Their roles are reversed.
Paternalism 4: The old man has recaptured his role as the
boy's tutor and role model. The boy is eager to learn from the old man again.
He ignores his biological father's wishes and pledges his loyalty, trust and
admiration to Santiago.
Topic Tracking: Pride
Pride 1: Manolin makes sure that Santiago's pride is
never wounded. An old man who has been fishing all of his life, and who
believes his destiny is to fish, Santiago's pride in his ability and skill as a
fisherman is all he has. The boy knows this and tries to protect the old man's
Pride 2: Santiago
always thinks of his hero Joe DiMaggio because of his greatness. Santiago would like to
believe that he stands out like his hero. The boy points out that Santiago is not
necessarily great, but is definitely unique.
Pride 3: One way that Santiago stands out from
other fisherman is his attention to detail. He has a thorough method he uses
for fishing and though he doesn't have the same success rate as other
fishermen, he sticks to methodology.
Pride 4: Santiago
takes his boat beyond all the others. He wishes to separate himself from
everyone else and be unique.
Pride 5: Santiago
relies on his former glory to give himself the self-esteem and feeling of
greatness necessary to endure his struggle with the Marlin. As El Campeon,
feels that there is no way he can be defeated, despite all the obstacles.
Pride 6: When Santiago and the Marlin
head back to shore, the fish hangs towering on the side of the skiff. Santiago is proud of his
victory as he looks at his catch.
Pride 7: Santiago's
pride is wounded when the sharks tear into his Marlin. It is as if the sharks have
Pride 8: Once again, Santiago feels guilty
about killing the fish. He wonders if he was motivated by pride or love to kill
the fish that he had so much respect for.