Character of SANTIAGO (The Old Man)


SANTIAGO (The Old Man)

Santiago, the old man, is a fisherman by trade, living a simple lonely life in a coastal colony. He is the chief character of the novel. This novel describes Santiago’s adventure with the giant fish marlin and then his fight with the sharks, which throws light on the old man’s personality and various aspects of his character. He has been without a fish for the last eighty four days.

He is old, physically thin and gaunt person. He fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream. Everything about him was old except his eyes, which were full of colour of the sea and were cheerful and undefeated. According to boy Manolin, Santiago is the best fisherman, with a unique ability and skill in his profession. He is an idealist for whom fishing is more than an occupation. It is not merely a way of making money; it is a way of life.

Santiago has lived an ordinary poor man’s. As a small boy he started his fishing career as apprentice on a boat and it was very thrilling and adventurous for him. He had been on African seacoast, where he saw lions running and playing about in jungle. Those pleasant days were still dream and enjoyed by him. In his youth he had been very strong and powerful man. In a hand game contest, he had defeated the Negro and won the title of the champion.

Santiago is a man of determination and resolution. After eighty four days he decides to go far out to catch a big fish. He succeeds in catching a big Marlin, but he loses the battle at the hands of the sharks. But he remains undefeated because he has gone on trying. His victory is a moral victory. His belief in that, “Man can be destroyed but not defeated” established him a man of strong determination. The old man does not become impatient or desperate rather he is determined to stay with the marlin until death. He tells the fish, “I will kill you dead before the day ends”. He has a first hand knowledge of the sea and its creatures that he has acquired through lifetime experiences. He judges the behaviour of the marlin and of the sharks very accurately. Though he wants luck, but he believes in the techniques and skills. He says, “It is better to be lucky. But it should rather be exact”.

Santiago is not an ordinary fisherman. He loves all the creatures and forces of universe. He calls the baited fish his brother. Not only fish, but also birds, wind and sea are regarded as friends by him. He thinks that man is never alone on the sea. He thinks that killing the fish was perhaps a sin. But he argues that everyone was killing someone else and survival of the fittest was the law nature.

Santiago has a sportsman spirit and takes very keen interest in the baseball. He reads sports column in the newspapers and talks about it with great zeal. During his fishing adventure he wishes to have a radio to listen news about the matches. When weak and exhausted during his struggle with sharks he remembers how Di Maggio, a great baseball hero could continue playing in spite of pain in the spur bone.

He attaches great value to valour and courage than resulting victory. He appreciates the noble struggle of the marlin. But he challenges the huge marlin with the remarks, “I will tell him what a man can do and what he can endure.” He knows that the marlin is superior to him in all aspects except intelligence. The marlin does not know that there is a single handed, weak old man with whom he has to fight. During his fight and struggle with the sharks he knows that he cannot fight and kill all the sharks and the loss of the marlin is inevitable. He wishes not to have killed the marlin. He condemns himself again and again for going beyond the ordinary fishing boundary yet he does not give up the struggle and determines of fight with them until death.

There are men and men but every stone is not a gem. In fact, he is the epitome of noble human characteristics. The brave manner of facing danger and fighting till death is the moral lesson he wants to convey to the readers. The greatness of man should not be measured by the mere achievement of his result but by the strength of his spiritual.

Character of MANOLIN (The Boy)


Manolin is the second important character in this novel. We are introduced with him in the beginning where he is shown as an obedient, respectful and sincerely devoted disciple of the old man. He has been assisting Santiago in his fishing excursions since his childhood, and learning the art of fishing from him. At the opening of the story the boy has been already withdrawn by his parents as Santiago had failed to takes any fish for forty days.

Manolin is Santiago’s only companion in the old age. The old man is leading a secluded life in the hut. His wife has died and he has no issue. Now he helps Santiago in his fishing preparations, brings him bait for catching big fish and also carries fishing gear and other things to his boat. He brings him beer and coffee from the Terrance and also provides food to him when needed.

Although Manolin wants to learn the craft for fishing from Santiago, yet his attachment with him is not merely for material benefits. Both have deep spiritual attachment with each other. Manolins’ feelings are badly hurt when he looks at the old man’s broken condition and wounded hands after his return from fishing adventure. He weeps bitterly and administers for his comfort and hot coffee. During conversation he offers him his full cooperation and ties his level bet to console and make him cheerful.

Santiago depends on the boy in all matters. He really fulfills a vital emotional need of the old man. They have a mutual sense of understanding.

In the course of his voyage the old man remembers the boy time and again. Santiago knows that if the boy had accompanied him, he would have rendered him full assistance in hunting the huge marlin. He would have massaged his cramped hand and helped in wetting the coils and other things.

So the boy is a source of great inspiration for the old man. The idea of the boy revives the image of his own youth in his mind.

The boy and the lions together help him in a notable way to endure his ordeal. They are both related to one of the fundamental psychological laws of Santiago’s nature.

As the boy recognizes and admires the unique ability of Santiago as a great fisherman, the old man unconsciously tries to prove himself to his estimate. He says, “I told the boy I was a strange old man; now it is time when I must prove it.” The author elaborates it. “The thousand times that he had proved it meant nothing. Now he was proving it again. Each time was a new time and he never thought about the past when he was doing it.”

At the end of the novel we see that the boy’s welcome to the old man on the shore and inside the hut was great spiritual tonic for him. It pulled him out of the depths of grief and brought him back to the heights of hoop and joy and life normally in society. The inner fighting spirit and courage of Santiago was revived by Manolin’s encouraging talk and inspiring presence.

Character of THE MARLIN (The Baited Fish)

THE MARLIN (The Baited Fish)

The baited fish is also a character in the novel. Santiago calls it by the title of brother. Santiago is the hero of the story and the marlin that he has hooked is the hero of the sea. The fish takes old man’s skiff for hours and hours and thus heroically proves his greatness equal to that of Santiago. This huge fish lives one mile down in the deep sea. The fish is very claver; he puts the hook on one side of his mouth. The old man fears that he would jerk again and again and if he jerked too often he would throw off the hook from his mouth.

We learn a lot about the marlin from the old man. It is bigger than his boat. It was a big scythe like blade and purple strips. It was a huge fish eighteen feet long. Its weight was fifteen hundred pounds. It had purple and silver colour. The fish is very attractive and dignified. To the old man he appears experienced. He is a male fish. The only flaw with him is that he does not know that his adversary is a single-handed weak old man.

In order to catch fish the old man had to say prayers. He also promises to make a pilgrimage to the Virgin de Cobre if he caught him. The old man admires him throughout and justifies his right to kill him in return, and says, “I don’t care who kills who”.

Important Lines of “Old Man and the Sea” for Quoting As Textual References

Important Lines of “Old Man and the Sea” for Quoting As Textual References:

1) “If you were my boy, I’d take you out and gamble,’ he said. But you are your father’s and your mother’s and you are in a lucky boat.”

2) “Que Va (what does it matter?)”, the boy said. “There are many good fishermen and some great ones. But there is only you.”

3) “I may not be as strong as I think,” the old man said. “But I know many tricks and I have resolution.”

4) “Fish, he said softly, aloud, “I’ll stay with you until I am dead.”

5) “Fish, he said, “I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you and dead before this day ends.”

6) I wonder why he jumped, the old man thought. He jumped almost as though to show me he big he was. I now know anyway, he thought. I wish I could show him what sort of man I am.

7) “How do you feel, fish?” he asked aloud. “I feel good and my left hand is better and I have food for night and a day. Pull the boat, fish.”

8) I do not understand these things, he thought. But it is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers.

9) He felt faint again now but he held on the great fish all the stain that he could. I moved him, he thought. May be this time I can get him over. Pull, hand, he thought.

10) 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 nobler thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who.

11) The old man felt faint and sick and he could not see well. But he cleared the harpoon line and let it run slowly through his raw hands, and when he could see, he saw the fish was on his back with silver belly up.

12) “He took about forty ponds,” the old man said aloud. He took my harpoon too and all the rape, he thought, and no my fish bleeds again and there will be others.”

13) 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, if is not a sin to kill him.

14) Now they have beaten me, he thought. I am too old to club sharks to death. But I will try it as long as I have the oars and the short club and the tiller.

15) “The hell with luck,” the boy said. “I’ll bring the luck with me.”


1) “The boy bark, but the caravan goes on.”
(Quote it when you discuss the criticism of the fishermen on the old man. The old man does not care for this criticism)

2) “The mind is its own place and in itself. And can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heave.”

Question # 1: Write a note on the soliloquies and monologues of the old man.

‘The Old Man and the Sea’  – Writer: Ernest Hemingway

Question # 1: Write a note on the soliloquies and monologues of the old man.

Answer: A soliloquy a device which is employed to reveal the inner-most thoughts of the speaker. Here the speaker speaks to none but to himself.

A monologue is a speech by one person who speaks alone. It may be distinguished from the soliloquy by the fact that the monologue is addressed to some one.

The novelist has used both these devices to being to light the inner working of the old man’s mind. Throughout the adventure with the giant fish and his fight with the sharks in the sea, the novelist has shown him talking to himself, to huge fish, marlin, to a small bird, Warbler, and to the sharks. This is his loud thinking.

The novelist has used the techniques of soliloquy and monologue for the following reasons:

Being a lonely soul, Santiago does not appear to have close relationship with other fishermen. There is only the boy, Manolin, who comes to him to learn the art of fishing. Later on, he too leaves him on the orders of his parents. He is thus left alone. He feels himself lonely. To get rid of the sense of loneliness or isolation, he sometimes talks to the huge fish, marlin, and sometimes to the other creatures of the sea.

Being far out and all alone on the sea, he also thinks loud of the Boy, Manolin, the lions, watched by him on the African Coasts during his youth, the base ball champion, DiMaggio, and his victory over a Negro in Hand game completion. While on the ocean, Santiago speaks to the huge fish, Marlin as:

‘Fish I’ll stay with you until I am dead.’

Another major reason of his talking to himself has been described by Santiago himself as:
‘If the others heard me talking out loud they would think that I am crazy,’ he said aloud. ‘But I am not crazy, I do not care. And the rich have radios to talk to them in their boats and to bring them the baseball.’

It is clear that he has no sources of communication that is why he talks to himself. If he had radio he would not have talked to himself. Another important technical aspect is that Santiago has to remain on the sea for a long time and if there is no communication with the readers, they will not understand anything about their hero. For better understanding of the readers the devices of soliloquy and monologue have been used.

Question # 2: What are the interests of the old man besides the fishing?

Question # 2: What are the interests of the old man besides the fishing?

Answer: Santiago is by birth a fisherman. Fishing is his source of income and livelihood. In addition to fishing Santiago has many other interests and hobbies.

Santiago is deeply interested in the game of Baseball. He takes keen interest in reading the newspapers in order to receive first hand information about the Baseball game. He takes interest in the league matches of this game. In fact, reading of the news of baseball in the newspapers gives him endless joy. The interest in this game is an inevitable part of his daily life.

Santiago’s interest in the game of hand wrestling is also notable. He is a great player of this game. Once in his youth he fought and won with a contest in had wrestling. He had contested a big Negro. The Negro was a recognized hand wrestler in the area. The old fisherman felt himself encouraged after the contest. No doubt it was a grand contest between Santiago and the Negro.

These are the chief interest and hobbies of Santiago in addition to his fishing.

Question # 3: Is Santiago believer of Christianity?

Question # 3: Is Santiago believer of Christianity? Justify or otherwise your answer.

Answer: Santiago has been introduced as a religious old fisherman but, he is, however, not a staunch believer in Christianity. When he suffers and is engaged in his struggle with a big fish, the marlin, he says that although he is not a religious fellow, yet he is believer in Christianity.

‘Blessed Virgin pray for this fish, wonderful thought he is’

Santiago’s allusion to Christ to God and to Virgin is simple appeal to strengthen him when he is in trouble. Before he is able to hook the fish, the Marlin, he exclaims with uncertainty.

‘Christ know he (Marlin) cannot have gone.’

When his left hand has become temporarily useless, he says:

‘God help me to have the cramp go.’

Nevertheless, he does not solely depend upon God’s help. He massages his cramped hand and exposes it to the sun. He, however, think that his prayers to God, to Christ, and to Virgin may also help him. So Santiago’s faith and belief in God is not sole but man’s capacity to endless suffering.

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