Hemingway, in The Old Man and the Sea , examines the struggles of man and
nature through the eyes of the protagonist, Santiago. Santiago senses his place in nature.
Although he respects and loves her, he is constantly battling her. The old man, formerly
called Santiago, is a wise, simple, enduring, and understanding person. The old man
knows he must fish to live, but it saddens him that he must kill them sometimes because of
their magnificence. An example being the Marlin in this story, he considers him a brother,
but yet he has to kill him.
He compares the Marlin to another male marlin he has encountered (pg.69). The
marlin he recalls had let his mate feed first. Then Santiago caught the female marlin and
she panicked but while she swam around the male stayed right with her. Even after she
was brought up he swam by the boat until at last he jumped up to see his mate one last
time and dove into the depths of the ocean. The old man and the boy, who parallels the
old man in the conflict, felt bad. They promptly begged her pardon and butchered her.
During the story he also remembers arm wrestling with a Negro from Ceinfuegos
(pg. 69). He recalls the bets that were placed and how the Negro had been so sure he
would win. Santiago thinks how he held the Negro for one whole night and one whole
day. The referees took four hour shifts and on Monday he finally took the Negro down.
At that point the old man decided he could do anything he wanted to if he put his mind
and body to it. He was referred to as the champion for a while after that.
The final struggle starts with a large circle and slowly turned into a short line.
Short enough so the man could see the Marlin (pg. 86). Santiago stares on in disbelief, he
never thought it would be this big. Sure he had seen it before, but he had no idea that it
would be two to three times as big as the skiff. As the Marlin's tail starts to hit the line,
the old man knew the Marlin was starting to feel the pain. Santiago gives him some line
each time he hit it for the pain could drive the Marlin mad, which the old man did not
want. After a long struggle (close to 6 hours), the old man finally had the Marlin. He did
regret killing him but knew he had complete his task.
It is apparent the old man has gained much wisdom through past experiences.
Santiago also has a lot of common sense, or simplicity, as you can see by how he decided
that there was nothing he could not do after he beat the Negro in arm wrestling. The old
man also shows endurance by staying with the Marlin for two and a half days. He is also
very understanding by the way he feels sorry for having to kill the Marlin that was his
brother.