ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea: Connection between Santiago and the Marlin

Updated on December 5, 2015

In Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea,” Santiago is an old fisherman struggling for a catch after an eighty-four day dry spell. The old man’s “sail was patched with flour sacks, and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat[1].” But the old man wasn’t concerned—he had gone eighty-seven days before without a catch, and to him, this was a new challenge and not a matter of luck as the other fishermen taunted. It is this attitude that defines Santiago as something other than an old man in a fishing boat, trolling the sea. In this, Santiago’s struggle with nature, his struggle for survival, show that how, like the prey he seeks, the old man represents something much greater.

In the beginning, Santiago is just an old man at sea with nothing to show for his efforts. Once he comes across the mythical marlin, both begin to define man’s struggle within nature. Santiago’s struggle with the marlin becomes epic, transcending all the other major moments in Santiago’s life as Santiago speaks aloud to the marlin: “fish…I’ll stay with you until I am dead[2].” He knows there is something unique about this catch, something that has to do with his commitment to the fish itself, and, he knows, the fish to him. Every move he makes is to befriend the marlin, to keep him on the line just long enough for Santiago to make the final move. In this, though, Santiago knows his place. He cannot catch the marlin without the marlin letting it be so. While man can fight and conquer nature, this aspect of Santiago and the marlin demonstrate that both must work together, even to the end.

Moreover, both Santiago and the marlin are in an epic struggle for survival. Santiago because he has caught nothing for more than eighty days, and the marlin purely for instinctual reasons; however, as Santiago thinks, “he took the bait like a male and he pulls like a male, and his fight has no panic in it. I wonder if he has any plans or if he is just as desperate as I am[3].” The marlin, in this instant, becomes more than just a fish in the sea. The marlin is now a character within the tale, a character to be invested in, and as the marlin fights, the question of who will win begins to loom. Truly, who has more to lose? As the battle plays out, it becomes clear that while the marlin is defeated, so too is Santiago—by an enemy more insidious than the sea itself. And it is through this losing struggle that Santiago and the marlin can be fully compared—as both were defeated by the same enemy.

In the end, Santiago loses his battle with the great marlin to the sharks. Both fought bravely and struggled hard, but ultimately, both Santiago and the marlin lost. Many critics make note that both Santiago and the marlin can be viewed as symbolic Christian figures. Santiago because he battles against evil (the sharks) and yet, when he returns home, feeling beaten and destroyed by his long battle and even longer time at sea, Santiago reflects on life as it is—and comes to the conclusion that though he was beaten, there was no more noble attempt made than his. The marlin, too, can be viewed as a Christian symbol in that it is as brave as Santiago, battling Santiago with a sense of teaching, patience, and instruction. Moreover, the marlin was literally eaten by the evil that beat Santiago. However, the marlin’s head remains as a symbol of the great struggle—and even the evil sharks could not take that away.

Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” is a tale of immense struggle, both between man and nature, and man and his place within nature. Santiago is like the marlin that he attempts to catch in that both are battling for the same purpose—survival, and both seem to teach the other during the epic moments. Santiago knows that he is just an instant away from losing his prize catch, knowing too, that he must allow the marlin to be caught in its own time. But, despite the struggle and the patience of both Santiago and the marlin, both are destroyed by an even greater evil. Yet, by the end of the story, with Santiago reflecting and the marlin’s head as the remaining catch, both survive.


[1] Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (London: Hueber Verlag, 1975), 5.

[2] Hemingway, 18.

[3] Hemingway, 17.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)