The Old Man and the Sea Analysis: The Old Man and the Sea Characters: An Analysis of Characters in The Old Man and the Sea

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Characters from The Old Man and the Sea: Santiago

Ernest Hemingway has won a Nobel Prize in Literature. I have not. Although I’m capable of writing an Old Man and the Sea analysis regarding characters from T_he Old Man and the Sea_, My _Old Man and the Sea_ analysis does not approach the greatness of the novel. What I’m saying is read the novel, if you haven’t already (unless of course you have a test over the novel in 13 minutes and you’re only on page 14).

Santiago - The novel focuses on its protagonist and his thoughts throughout. We know he’s old. We know he’s a fishermen. We know he likes Joe Dimaggio.

  • It appears that three days alone on the sea battling a gigantic marlin has made him a bit loopy. For example, he tells the marlin he loves it…mmmmm…. He rejoices that he does not have to capture stars or the moon. He dreams a lot about lions on the beach in Africa. He talks to sharks. He talks to birds. He compares himself to Joe Dimaggio. He unnecessarily identifies himself as a strange old man.
  • Despite his eccentricities, Santiago is one to be admired. His isolation makes him a man. His refusal to be defeated despite the inevitability of it makes him the ultimate Hemingway hero. After three days alone on the sea, you might start loving marlins too.
  • Santiago (St. James in English) becomes a transcendent figure. He has conquered death through his heroic acts and is considered by critics an allegorical Christ figure: he receives marks on his hands; the rope creates lash marks on his back; he must face his trials alone. Hemingway hints that immortality is achieved by Santiago, not through successfully returning with a fish, but by fighting against insurmountable odds.

More Characters from The Old Man and the Sea Analysis

Manolin - He alone remains loyal to Santiago.

  • Despite his loyalty, Manolin is not able to fish with his mentor on account of his father. He assists the old man in other capacities. Manolin represents youth and hope. It is hope that carries Santiago back to sea and back to land.

The Marlin - Santiago’s worthy opponent succumbs to Santiago, and to the chagrin of all, becomes a tasty snack.

  • Other than the 1997 and 2003 Florida Marlins who won the World Series, Santiago’s marlin has achieved more notoriety than any other marlin ever to live. He presents Santiago his greatest challenge. He is admired and, like Santiago, becomes heroic in defeat. In a 1972 interview with the Undersea Times, Frankie the Hammerhead claims that Santiago’s marlin may have been the tastiest fish he had ever eaten.

The Sharks - When you’re out at sea during most of the novel, there aren’t too many humans to talk to, so you start talking to fish.

  • The sharks represent life’s trials and the predatory nature of humans. Regardless of individual success, the sharks will eventually get you. It’s inevitable. That doesn’t mean, however, that one must simply give up. Santiago fights the sharks, regardless of the predetermined outcome. Some claim the sharks symbolize literary critics who had viewed Hemingway’s more recent works negatively. To those literary critics, I say shut up! Look who won a Nobel Prize in Literature. To the sharks I say thanks for not eating me when I swam in the ocean last week.

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This post is part of the series: The Old Man and the Sea Study Guide

If you haven’t gotten an ‘A’ in 84 days, you need to look at this study guide. Be careful. Sharks will devour it after one whiff.

  1. A Summary of The Old Man and the Sea
  2. Symbolism in The Old Man and the Sea
  3. Themes in The Old Man and the Sea
  4. Important Quotes from The Old Man and the Sea
  5. The Old Man and the Sea Analysis: Characters in The Old Man and the Sea