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 At the opening of the story the boy has been already withdrawn by his parents as Santiago had failed to takes any fish for forty days.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.