Character of Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea

 Character of Santiago
          Santiago is an old fisherman. He loves fishing. Though he has not caught any fish for eighty four days, he has not given up hopes. He sets out for the eighty fifth time like Robin Hood in search of a big fish.
Santiago has a unique power of observation. He observes closely the habits of different kinds of fish. He says that logger heads are stupid and the tortoise makes love by producing strange sounds. He talks of the male marlin allowing its female partner to eat first. He notices the phosphorescent colour of weeds and the lavender colour of the dead marlin’s tail with much fondness.
Very often we see Santiago talking to himself aloud. He thinks aloud and very often his mind travels to the past providing us with plenty of flashbacks. We also see him talking to various fish and birds. He considers them as his companions, and lives with nature.
We can see a paradoxical trait in Santiago’s character. He says, “Fish, I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.” When he eats, he pities the starving marlin and wants to supply food to it. Yet he wants to prove his power and intelligence to the fish by killing it.

After killing the marlin, Santiago feels sorry for the fish. He thinks it a sin to have killed the marlin which has not done him any harm. Yet he tries to justify the act by saying that everything kills everything else in this world.
Santiago shows a great skill in fishing. The way he adjusts and handles the fishing lines at various depths and analyses their minute movements shows that he is an expert in fishing. He is also a good reader of weather and watches the sea and the clouds carefully.
Santiago is able to tolerate and endure sufferings. He survives on the sea by eating tuna raw. He does this out of necessity to strengthen himself to fight against the marlin.
Santiago does not exhibit the feeling of fear. He fights with the sharks all alone in the sea. He is very much grieved when the sharks have eaten up all the fish of the marlin. He feels sorry for the fish and says, “I shouldn’t have gone out so far, fish… I’m sorry, fish?”
Hemmingway admires Santiago and associates him with Christ. When he is unable to save the marlin from the sharks, Santiago cries, “Ay”, in a manner similar to the cry of Christ when crucified. After reaching the harbor, Santiago carries his mast on his shoulders which is like Christ carrying the cross. The several wounds he receives while fishing remind us of the wounds of Christ. Hemmingway has thus excelled in creating the character of Santiago amazingly.

Post a Comment