The book is about deep-sea fishing. Ernest liked to fish and document his experiences while out at sea. There was a story about a man and his difficulties with catching a marlin out at sea. This eventually became the story for the book. This became the central idea for the book. It was from the point of view of the fisherman. This allows the reader to participate in the story better. The themes of the book are for one ‘endurance with a fatalistic sense’ and ‘kill prey with a reverence for life’. It was this book that led to his winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.
Santiago fished alone and hadn’t caught anything for 84 days. For the first 40 days, he had a boy to keep him company. After that, the boy headed to another boat after seeing the bad luck Santiago had. The boy would play the role of assistant on the boat. The old man had a haggard appearance, but his eyes shone with joy and hope. Santiago didn’t want to lose faith. Many of the other fishermen mocked at Santiago for he didn’t return with any fish. The boy and he had a close bond and the boy bought him a beer. The old man wanted just one sardine as a bait. He sensed that with the favorable wind directions, tomorrow would be a good day. The boy was concerned that the old man may not be able to handle a large fish himself. Santiago kept relics of his wife in his own shack. To the old man, he liked baseball and saw the importance of having faith. They bought a lottery with the number 85 and hoped it would be a lucky day tomorrow. The boy was very kind and now brought him supper to eat. Santiago believed in the Yankees. DiMaggio was their star player. They started talking about the great base baller, John J. McGraw.
There are many good fishermen and some great ones. But there is only you. – The Boy
I may not be as strong as I think. But I know many tricks and I have resolution. – Santiago
Age was his alarm clock. In his sleep, the old man dreamt about his younger days when he explored Africa. After a while, he headed over to the boy’s house to wake him up. It was early in the wee hours of the morning. ‘It is what a man must do.’ The Boy. The boy helped the man pack his boat. The boy was called Manolin. He wished the old man good luck.
But the old man always thought of the sea as feminine and as something that gave or withheld great favours, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them. – Ernest Hemingway
The old man headed far out at sea. He felt sad for the flying fish because they were made too delicately for survival and hunting in the ocean. He threw his line in the sea and the hook was covered with fresh sardines. The old man started observing the lines in the water to see if the line stirred.
Only I have no luck anymore. But who knows? Maybe today. Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready. – Santiago
He hated looking at the sun and it caused hurt in his eyes. Then he spotted a huge man-of-war bird circling. The bird seemed to have spotted something and the old man fished over that area. The dolphins were attacking a flying fish, so was the bird. The old man hoped a bigger fish would be in the vicinity. Later on the evening, a man-of-war jellyfish floated beside his boat. The fish were immune to the poison of the jellyfish. The old man loved to see giant turtles eating the man-of-war. For many months, he ate turtle eggs to stay strong and be ready to hunt. Shark liver oil was good against colds. Many tuna fish were after the bait now. A fish was caught on the hook and he tried to reel it in. He was caught and placed in the boat. It was a 10 pound Albacore and was to be used as the bait again. Santiago started articulating his thoughts to himself. It was day 85 without a big catch. One of the lines started bobbing and he tugged.
A marlin was eating the sardines that covered the hook. The tug disappeared after the marlin finished off one tuna. It turned but then returned again for the next bait along the line. Something was hard and unbelievably heavy instead. The pressure on his fingers were incredible. It was a huge fish and Santiago give it some line. Santiago didn’t want to tug hard as he wanted the marlin to finish the bait. The old coiled the line but the fish continued moving slowly away. The fish was now towing the boat and Santiago didn’t want to break the line. 4 hours after, the marlin was still bringing him out to sea. Santiago wasn’t able to catch visual of the fish yet. The fish was amazing considering it had a hook in his mouth. The old man was in a comfortable position despite being dragged by the marlin. The glow of Havana was what Santiago used to navigate the direction. The old man reminded to eat in the morning. Now, thoughts of pity of the big fish came to his mind. The big fish wasn’t desperate and didn’t panic to ruin the old man. He fought like a man. There was once when they caught a female marlin but the male one accompanied her by following the boat until she was killed. The marlin now was something he deserved for venturing so far out at sea. He cut the line on another fish that grabbed one of its bait. A sudden lurch by the marlin left Santiago with a cut across his cheek. The old man wanted to stay with the fish till he was dead. It was an endurance test.
The fish showed no signs of relenting after 2 days. However, it was swimming in a little less shallow waters. The old man was careful not to jerk the line as the marlin might jump and throw the line. Increasing tension in the line was not possible as it was already taut. The fish gave a lurch and thankfully the old man gave it some line. If not, he would be thrown overboard. Now, his hand was bleeding. Something had hurt the fish. The old man vowed to focus on the marlin and not be distracted by birds. He washed his hand in the ocean and realized the marlin was slowing down. The old man flung the bonito in the sea, hoping that the marlin would eat it. He yearned for salt to heal his wound. His left hand suffered from cramp and he would hardly use it anymore. He prayed for the cramp to dissipate. Now, the old man hoped his hand would be alright and couldn’t force it to recover anyway. Thankfully there was no hurricane in the distance. He felt that the cramp humiliated him. The line was slanting upwards now. He finally showed its true self and it was truly beautiful. There was a risk that with bad pressure control, the fish could take the entire line and break it. This was the first time the old man was catching something that big alone. At night, the old man’s hand un-cramped and he was ready to fight again. Now, he prayed to God that he would be able to catch the fish.
It was daylight again. Santiago thought of feeding himself again He wanted to prove to the fish what a man could do, even if it might seem cruel. The fish swan at a slightly higher level again and was changing direction. The old man was tiring and he thought of baseball. Santiago hoped that sharks would not arrive to spoil the party. Santiago compared himself to the great DiMaggio. He recalled the days when he won an epic arm wrestling competition. To him, the marlin was a dignified creature but he still wanted to catch it. The marlin was slowly down visibly. He didn’t want to disturb the fish during the night. The old man caught a dolphin and planned to eat it as he was feeling weak. He treated the fish as a friend that he had to kill.
There is no one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behavior and his great dignity. – Santiago
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. – Santiago
The old man wanted to wait and see what happened. The difficult part was to cushion the pull of the line with his body and give line with his hands. He realized he needed to sleep in order to stay fresh. Not sleeping would be too risky for his well-being. Now, the old man started slicing up the dolphin. The marlin was tiring after 2 days and 2 nights of pulling the boat. Despite raw meat tasting bad, he still ate the dolphin. While asleep, he dreamt of lions in the forest. Suddenly the fish started jumping up and down. He gave the fish more line. The old man anticipated the upcoming battle with the fish once it started circling. Now, his right hand was cut slightly again.
My hand isn’t bad. And pain does not matter to a man. – The Old Man
It was better to be light-headed than nauseous. Finally the fish started circling. The circling lasted surprisingly long at 2 hours. The fish was steadily rising too. The old man didn’t want the fish to jump as it might throw the hook. After time the fish circled, the old man would draw the line in. The fish was slowly coming in. It was within visible sight and it looked huge. The plan was to harpoon it each time the old man drew some line in. Now, the pull pulled alongside his boat. The old man needed to clear his head. Finally, he stood up and plunged the harpoon deep into its body. The water was soon discolored after the marlin started bleeding from his heart. Now, he needed to lash him alongside and then set sail for home. There was slave work to be done after the end of the fight. The fish was incredibly big. His hands and back hurt like crazy. The old man ate some shrimps as he was hungry. It was no dream. He really witnessed that battle.
An hour after being caught, the first shark attacked him. It was a huge Mako shark who managed to smell the trace of blood in the water. The old man prepared his harpoon and was really to stab it. He rammed it into the shark’s brain. Although he killed it, the shark went down with his harpoon and a chunk of the marlin. The old man feared that other sharks might come for the marlin.
When the fish had been hit it was as though Santiago himself were hit. – Ernest Hemingway
But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated. – Santiago
The old man felt bad killing the marlin but he had to sail on. He started thinking of the positives and that he was a little lighter now. It was silly not to hope. Santiago tried not to think about whether it was sinful to hurt the fish.
You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, Santiago (the fisherman) 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. – Ernest Hemingway
The old man tried some of the marlin’s meat and it tasted good. Then he saw two other sharks. They were shovel-nosed sharks. They were mean sharks who were scavengers. They often attacked turtles and men too. The old man drove the knife into one of them and it went down without coming up again. Later, he managed to kill the other shark as well. A quarter of the marlin had been chewed off. The old man felt apologetic about the marlin. The bleeding on his hand might prevent the cramping. The next shark that visited was a shovelnose. Now, the knife blade snapped when he plunged it in the shark. The old man thought he could club the next one to death. The plan was to hit them at the top of their heads. After two strikes, the brown shark slid away. The two sharks gave up attacking after a while. The old man thought that he only managed to injure them.
Half-fish, fish that you were. I am sorry that I went too far out. I ruined us both. But we have killed many sharks, you and I, and ruined many others. How many did you ever kill, old fish? You do not have that spear on your head for nothing. – Santiago
He wanted to buy luck because he felt that he didn’t have any. ‘Luck is a thing that comes in many forms and who can recognize her?’ Now, he caught slight of the city lights from afar. Now, the sharks came in a pack and he couldn’t fight them anymore. There was nothing left for the sharks to eat. The old man was finally beaten. Now, he simply concentrated on steering and didn’t do anything else. The wind and the bed were his friends. He sailed into the harbor. Everyone was in bed at that time. Finally, he managed to find a way to his shack and he placed the mast there. The old man fell into deep sleep when the boy woke him up the next morning. The other fishermen measured the carcass’ length. The fish was 18 feet long in total. The boy took care of the old man. He felt sorry for leaving the old man alone. It turns out that the coast guard and the planes searched for his boat but couldn’t find it. The old man admitted that he missed the boy. The boy vowed to fish with the old man in future. He wanted to learn as much as possible about fishing. The old man suffered a great deal during his ordeal. He felt asleep again and started dreaming of lions.