The Old Man and the Sea: the Relationship between Santiago and Manolin

Throughout The Old Man and the Sea, it’s evident that Santiago and Manolin have an interestingly deep relationship. However, the contributions that the old man and Manolin put forth into this substantially loving, strong, and caring relationship change as they both age.

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In the beginning of the old man and Manolin’s relationship, love is established and one can see that Santiago takes care of and mentors the boy. Hemingway states, The old man had taught the boy to fish and the boy loved him (10), therefore one can conclude that the old man taught and was the primary caregiver in this relationship. However, as both themselves and the relationship ages, the roles Manolin and Santiago play in the relationship reverse. For example, Manolin has the same partially fictitious conversation with the old man every day, asking ‘May I take the cat net?’ (16), making sure Santiago has enough to eat, and discussing baseball along with yesterday’s paper. Evidently, Manolin now takes care for Santiago to much larger extent than Santiago takes care of Manolin. In the end of the novel, Manolin declares, ‘we will fish together now for I still have much to learn’ (125), which allows Santiago to once again take care of Manolin to a greater extent, specifically in the manner of teaching and mentoring him like he did when Manolin was a younger boy. Overall, it’s undeniably evident that Santiago and Manolin’s relationship is filled with care and caretaking, even though the caregiving positions of the boy and Santiago change throughout their relationship.

There are numerous other elements in Manolin and Santiago’s relationship, including faith, love, and selflessness. In the beginning of the novel, Hemingway straightforwardly states, The old man had taught the boy to fish and the boy loved him (10). From this, one can understand that the love in Santiago and Manolin’s relationship came from early on. Furthermore, Santiago states, ‘I wish the boy was here’ numerous times while on his journey which patently shows that the old man both loves and misses Manolin (50). Faith in their relationship is also displayed in the commencement of this novel. The old man says, ‘I know you did not leave me because you doubted’ (10), which shows that he has faith in the boy and their relationship. Additionally, after Manolin states that his father doesn’t have a lot of faith, Santiago says, ‘But we have. Haven’t we?’ and the boy assures him by simply saying, ‘yes’ (11). Therefore, Santiago and Manolin have an immense amount of faith in each other and their relationship. Moreover, selflessness plays a substantial role in the relationship between Manolin and the old man. For instance, when Manolin offers to fish with Santiago again in the beginning of the novel, the old man denies his offer and explains to Manolin, ‘You’re with a lucky boat. Stay with them’ (10). Santiago selflessly denied Manolin’s offer to fish with him again as Manolin would be better off fishing with the lucky boat. We learn that Santiago wishes Manolin was fishing with him as he states it a multitude of times throughout the novel, therefore he would’ve been much more content if he would have accepted this offer. Patently, the relationship between Manolin and Santiago is filled with selflessness, faith, and love.

In final consideration, one can clearly identify and describe the old man and the boy’s relationship in The Old Man and the Sea as caring, loving, faithful, and unselfish. Although who’s taking care of who in Manolin and Santiago’s relationship changes, their relationship is undoubtedly still rich in care.

Discuss the function of Martin, proprietor of the Terrace, in the novel.

In The Old Man and the Sea, the proprietor of the Terrace named Martin obtains a key function in the novel. Martin is a benevolent man who generously gives Manolin beverages and food, free of charge in both the commencement and conclusion of the story. By doing this, Martin functions as a character who further developed the character of the old man as humble, grateful, and wise.

Martin, the proprietor of the Terrace, helps identify and form Santiago’s personality. Martin is a charitable character who gives Martin food for Santiago without charging them money. The generous actions and character of Martin function in a way that they further build Santiago’s character and personality as both grateful, wise, and humble. The old man’s reactions to the kind acts of Martin identify Santiago as grateful because when he finds out that Martin had given Manolin the utensils, food, and beer they were about to use or consume, Santiago wants to ‘give him the belly meat of a big fish,’ after he declares, ‘I must thank him’ (20). From this, one can already decipher the old man as grateful. When Santiago finds out that Martin has good-heartedly given them food on more than one occasion, Santiago states, ‘I must give him something more than the belly meat then. He is very thoughtful for us’ (20). One can now understand that the old man is even more substantially grateful for the proprietor’s actions than before, evidently making Santiago a grateful character. The fact that Santiago accepts the food makes him humble because it clearly indicates that he does not think he is too superb to accept such charitable acts, but also wise because he accepts food that he clearly needs even though he can’t repay Martin immediately for his kind actions. Evidently, Martin functions as a side character that further develops the character and nature of Santiago.

All in all, it is apparent that the function of Martin, proprietor of the Terrace in The Old Man and the Sea is to advance the development of Santiago’s character. Martin’s actions highlight the wiseness, humbleness, and gratefulness of the old man’s personality.

Evaluate the author’s choice of the third-person omniscient point of view with regard to the development of the plot.

Throughout his novel, The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway chose to implement the point of view of third-person omniscient into his writing. With regard to the development of the plot, I firmly perceive that Hemingway was wise in this decision because without the use of third-person omniscient, the story would be confusing and less intriguing.

With the use of third-person omniscient in this novel, the reader gets to understand how the old man feels throughout his journey, what goes through his mind, and how strong Santiago and Manolin’s relationship truly is. Without these factors, the novel would merely become insipid, uninteresting, and possibly confusing. For example, during the development of the plot, the reader learns a lot about how the fish, marlin, and skiff are moving, why they’re moving in this way, and how it affects Santiago through his thoughts. For example, Hemingway states, They were moving more slowly now and the glow of Havana was not so strong, so that he knew the current must be carrying them to the eastward. If I lose the glare of Havana we must be going more to the eastward, he thought (47). In this quote, there is both the narrator’s description of what was occurring and the old man’s thoughts. Without Santiago’s thoughts, most readers wouldn’t know that the feeble glow of Havana and slow motion of the skiff meant that current was carrying the skiff eastward. Therefore, The Old Man and the Sea being told in the third-person limited point of view where the narrator doesn’t know or share the character’s thoughts would leave readers confused and simply uninterested. Through the use of third-person omniscient, the reader also learns how strong of a bond Manolin and Santiago have. For instance, the old man states, ‘I wish the boy were here’ and expresses how he misses the boy out loud several times while on his journey to catch and bring home the marlin (56). The narrator also explains how the boy has the same conversation with the old man and how they went through this fiction every day (16). Consequently, if the novel was told in first-person where you only read the narrator’s thoughts and the dialogue they hear and speak, one wouldn’t understand the tightly-knit relationship of Manolin and the old man, and a lesser or no bond at all would be formed between the reader and the characters. Second-person point of view obviously wouldn’t work because second-person is typically used for instructional writing purposes, while this novel is telling a story. Evidently, Hemingway made an intelligent decision in writing this novel in the third-person omniscient point of view as the novel written without third-person point of view purely wouldn’t work.

Patently, I undoubtedly believe that Ernest Hemingway made the correct decision in writing The Old Man and the Sea in the third-person omniscient point of view. If it were written in any other point of view, the novel wouldn’t be able to include or as effectively include how and what Santiago feels and thinks as well as the significant bond between him and the boy, which are crucial to the plot.

Examine various examples of symbolism employed by Hemingway in this novel, and explain how the use of symbolism contributes to both plot and characterization.

In Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway employs symbolism various times throughout the novel. The use of the mast across Santiago’s shoulders, the position he sleeps in, the lions in his dreams, and the great DiMaggio are all uses of symbolism that contribute to both the plot and characterization in the novel.

On numerous occasions towards the conclusion of the story, the old man carries the mast on his shoulders. For example, Hemingway states, He started to climb again and at the top he fell and lay for some time with the mast across his shoulder. He tried to get up. But it was too difficult and he sat there with the mast on his shoulder and looked at the road (121). This symbolizes and alludes to not only the cross of Jesus, but also to the struggle and suffering that Jesus undergoes. The mast on Santiago’s shoulders makes him look similar to the symbol of Jesus on the cross, and highlights how the old man is too hurt and exhausted to even get up, with injuries on the palms of his hands and back. The position in how the old man sleeps, He pulled the blanket over his shoulders and then over his back and legs and he slept face down on the newspapers with his arms out straight and the palms of his hands up (122), also symbolizes Jesus on the cross, specifically in how Santiago’s injured palms face up. This use of symbolism contributes to characterization in this novel by developing the old man’s character as a compassionate, enduring, and humble person alike to Jesus. The symbolization of the mast on the old man’s shoulders also contributes to the plot by in some way giving an explanation to why Santiago was able to endure such pain for three days, similar to how Jesus endured pain on the cross. Evidently, Hemingway uses the old man’s sleeping position and the mast on his shoulders to symbolize Jesus in this novel.

Another use of symbolism in The Old Man and the Sea is when Hemingway uses the great DiMaggio and his story to symbolize the power of being persevered and persistent, in which the old man also portrays. Santiago thinks to himself, I must have confidence and I must be worthy of the great DiMaggio who does all things perfectly even with the pain of the bone spur in his heel (68). Clearly, DiMaggio is a persevered player who overcome the challenge and pain of his bone spur to continue playing baseball, whom Santiago reveres and glorifies. Similar to DiMaggio, Santiago overpowers the pain of the injuries in his palms and on his back in order to catch and return with the marlin through hard work and perseverance. This use of symbolism contributes to the plot because without Santiago’s persistence through his injuries, he would’ve had to simply give up on the marlin and sail back to his shack. This novel would then either contain a substantially insipid plot or feeble plot, and the reader wouldn’t have been able to create as strong of a bond with Santiago throughout the plot. This example of symbolism also contributes to the characterization in this novel by developing the old man as a persistent and persevere character. Patently, Hemingway uses DiMaggio to symbolize the old man’s persevering actions throughout his journey.

Hemingway uses symbolism in Santiago’s dreams, in which he dreams of lions on the beach from his youth. Lions are strong, prideful, and substantially capable animals, all of which the old man also was in his youth. The lions symbolize everything Santiago is trying to hold on to from his childhood, as he never dreams about anything current in his life. For instance, Hemingway states, He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach and He never dreamed about the boy (25). It seems as if the old man only dreams of what he is desperately trying to hold onto during his later years, as holding onto the capableness of his young self would evidently aid in ending his eighty-four day dry spell. The use of lions as symbolism contributes to the plot because it helps the readers understand why Santiago needs to return with the marlin so desperately, and contributes to characterization by developing Santiago’s past and current desires. Evidently, the old man dreaming about lions symbolizes characteristics from his youth that Santiago intensely desires and wishes to hold on to.

All in all, Hemingway uses symbolism numerous time in The Old Man and the Sea which immensely contribute to both characterization in the novel and the plot. The lions in the old man’s dreams, the great DiMaggio, the mast and Santiago’s sleeping positions are all used as symbols in this novel.

Do you think Santiago is a tragic hero who brought down his own destruction? If so, what in your opinion, is his character flaw? In other words, what thing within him caused his destruction? If you do not think Santiago fits the description of a tragic hero, explain why not, using evidence from the novel.

Catching the marlin in the novel, The Old Man and the Sea, is what primarily made Santiago a hero. He persisted through pains and aches that no old man should have to experience and travelled vast distances, just to catch the great marlin. Accordingly, I don’t think that Santiago is a tragic hero, as his character flaw plays a significant role in his heroic actions.

I simply do not believe that Santiago fits the description of a tragic hero, although he does indeed have a character flaw. As stated in the prompt, as tragic hero can be defined as one whose downfall or destruction is brought about by some character flaw within himself. However, without this character flaw of travelling too far out (115), Santiago wouldn’t be a hero in the first place. I firmly perceive that Santiago is indeed a hero, but that enduring injuries and pain throughout his journey to catch the marlin is what made him a hero. In the novel, Hemingway states, four hours later the fish was still swimming steadily out to sea, towing the skiff, and the old man was still braced solidly with the line across his back (45). From reading what was previously stated, the reader is able to understand that the old man knew that in order to catch the marlin, he would have to sail out exceptionally far. Consequently, if catching the marlin is what makes the old man a hero, then travelling far out was simply a risk a part of his heroic journey. Evidently, the old man isn’t a tragic hero because his character flaw was required for him to become such a hero.

In final consideration, although the old man is a hero, he is does not fit the description of a tragic hero. Santiago’s character flaw is critical in making him a hero, therefore he clearly is not a tragic hero in The Old Man and the Sea.

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The Old Man and the Sea: The Relationship Between Santiago and Manolin. (2019, Nov 13). Retrieved December 10, 2022 , from

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