The Old Man and the Sea

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Manolin Character Analysis

An adolescent Cuban boy who has fished with Santiago since he was a child, Manolin is Santiago's devoted apprentice. He cares for Santiago in his old age, and encourages him in his fishing even though Manolin's parents have forced Manolin to seek out a "luckier" employer. He is Santiago's only human friend, and looks up to Santiago as a mentor and father-figure. Manolin exemplifies traits of fidelity, selflessness and compassion. He accepts hard work happily, never complaining.

Manolin Quotes in The Old Man and the Sea

The The Old Man and the Sea quotes below are all either spoken by Manolin or refer to Manolin. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scribner edition of The Old Man and the Sea published in 1952.
Day One Quotes
"There are many good fishermen and some great ones. But there is only one you."
Related Characters: Manolin (speaker), Santiago
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

Manolin's adoration for Santiago is clear throughout the story, and we know Manolin only stopped fishing with the old man because his parents thought Santiago cursed to never catch another fish. 

We learn that Santiago taught Manolin everything the boy knows about fishing, and here Manolin's pride at being an apprentice to the old master shows. It's also a reassurance to Santiago, who is made fun of by many of the younger and more successful fishermen. Despite the fact that these other men seem to catch fish almost every day, while Santiago hasn't caught anything in eighty-four days, Manolin's commitment to Santiago is unbreakable.

As we learn throughout the story, Manolin is the closest thing Santiago has to a friend. And, because Santiago's wife has died, Manolin is also the closest thing the old man has to family. 

Hemingway writes in many of his novels and stories about "good" and "great" men, and there's a characteristic bravado to Manolin's statement. It never becomes clear whether or not Santiago is really the best fisherman, but in Manolin's eyes he's a singular talent. 

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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. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy.
Related Characters: Santiago, Manolin
Related Symbols: Lions
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

By using all these terms of negation (like "no longer" and "nor") to list things Santiago used to dream about, Hemingway creates a strong sense of all the experiences Santiago has had in his long life. Though the list evokes some nostalgia, it seems like Santiago's feelings resolve toward the end of this passage to a contentment with what he has lost and what he currently has. 

The bravado of Hemingway's male characters emerges again, as we notice the things that Santiago once dreamed of: storms, women, great occurrences, great fish, fights, contests of strength, and his wife. In the world of these fishermen, and probably in Hemingway's mind too, these are the things that allow a man to assert his manliness. This mention of "contests of strength" points to the passage where Santiago arm-wrestles another man for an entire day.

It's important not only that Santiago is a man, but also that he's an old man. The other fishermen see Santiago as an old man, but he wants them to see him as a man just like them-- or better than them. If Santiago can wrestle in the big marlin, he'll prove to all the other fishermen he's still on top of their hierarchy. 

And yet Santiago no longer dreams of these things. Maybe he just doesn't care too much what the others think of him now. His dreams of lions seem to emerge from memories of working on ships off the coast of Africa, far back in his past, and something about this choice of memories makes it seem like part of Santiago wants to retire from the difficulty and competitiveness of fishing and escape far away. Hemingway loves to write about lions, and they're an important element of many of his most well-known short stories. 

Day Five Quotes
"How much did you suffer?"
"Plenty," the old man said.
Related Characters: Manolin (speaker)
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

The depth of the connection between Santiago and Manolin shows in this short dialogue between them. Manolin intuits that Santiago must have suffered greatly at sea for multiple days, having seen the massive fish skeleton left ashore. But, by asking Santiago how much he has suffered, Manolin tries to get the old man to talk about whatever happened over the past four days. 

Santiago doesn't take the bait, and either out of humility or pure exhaustion doesn't want to discuss his struggles. This humility again suggests the Jesus-like character of Santiago. It is presumed that Jesus suffers greatly in the Biblical story, but he refuses to complain about the pain or say much of anything against the men who kill him. Santiago alludes to the fact that he suffered "plenty" at sea, but doesn't go into greater detail. 

"To hell with luck," the boy said. "I'll bring the luck with me."
Related Characters: Manolin (speaker)
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:

Manolin, eager since the beginning of the book to rejoin Santiago aboard his unlucky skiff, is even more excited about the idea after the old man makes it back ashore from his arduous journey. Still Santiago worries that he has bad luck.

It seems unlikely that Santiago actually thinks himself unlucky, given that he continues to go to sea every single day and even discusses buying a lottery ticket before leaving on his big expedition. Instead, Santiago's worry about his "bad luck" is probably more a worry about how Manolin's parents will react if the boy tells his parents he wants to return to working with the old man. 

Manolin's response shows a sort of recklessness, but also suggests he might not really believe in luck either. (Most people who really believe in luck probably wouldn't curse luck itself!) But his eagerness to work with Santiago also provides a sort of hope at the end of the story, that they might indeed work together again and that Santiago might have an easier future out at sea.     

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Manolin Character Timeline in The Old Man and the Sea

The timeline below shows where the character Manolin appears in The Old Man and the Sea. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Day One
Friendship Theme Icon
Christian Allegory Theme Icon
...gone 84 days without catching a fish. For the first 40 days, a boy named Manolin worked with Santiago. But Manolin's parents forced him to leave Santiago and start working on... (full context)
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
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After Santiago's 84th unsuccessful day, Manolin once again helps him to bring in his skiff and gear. Manolin tells Santiago that... (full context)
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Manolin offers to buy Santiago a beer on the Terrace, a restaurant near the docks. The... (full context)
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Man and Nature Theme Icon
Over their beers, Santiago tells Manolin that he will be fishing far out in the sea the next day. Manolin says... (full context)
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After they finish the beer, Manolin helps Santiago carry his equipment up the road to Santiago's sparsely furnished shack. On the... (full context)
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After going through the same dinner ritual they follow every night: Santiago offers Manolin some food, which Manolin declines because Santiago doesn't really have any food at all. (full context)
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They then sit on the porch and read about baseball in the newspaper. Santiago tells Manolin he will have a good catch the next day, his 85th day without luck, and... (full context)
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Manolin leaves to get the sardines he promised Santiago. When he returns, it is dark and... (full context)
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Manolin reminds himself to bring Santiago water, soap, and a towel, as well as a new... (full context)
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But Manolin wants to talk more about baseball. They talk about Joe DiMaggio, who is Santiago's favorite... (full context)
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Manolin breaks in to say that he thinks Santiago is the best fisherman. Santiago humbly disagrees,... (full context)
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When Manolin leaves, Santiago wraps himself in the blanket and lies down on the newspapers that cover... (full context)
Day Two
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When Santiago wakes the next morning, he goes up the road to Manolin's house to wake him, as he does every morning. Santiago apologizes for disturbing Manolin's sleep,... (full context)
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Man and Nature Theme Icon
...he will not eat all day because eating has bored him for a long time. Manolin helps Santiago load his boat, and they wish each other luck. As he rows into... (full context)
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...wonders when he began talking to himself. He concludes that it must have been when Manolin left, and thinks that if the other fisherman heard him they would think he was... (full context)
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When the sun goes down, Santiago wishes Manolin could see his big catch and help him drag the marlin out of the water.... (full context)
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Santiago remembers when he and Manolin caught a female marlin, one of a pair. She fought desperately, and the entire time... (full context)
Day Three
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...and thinks of the cramp as a betrayal by his own body. He wishes that Manolin were there to rub his hand for him. (full context)
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...show "what a man can do and what a man endures" and to prove to Manolin that he is indeed a "strange old man." (full context)
Day Four
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..."everything kills everything else in some way," but then he reminds himself that it is Manolin who keeps him alive. (full context)
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...believes that when darkness falls he will see the glow of Havana. He wonders if Manolin has been worried about him. (full context)
Day Five
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Santiago is asleep when Manolin comes to his shack in the morning. Though relieved to see that Santiago is breathing,... (full context)
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...skeleton attached to Santiago's skiff. They estimate its length at 18 feet. When they see Manolin, they ask him how Santiago is doing, feeling guilty for all the times they laughed... (full context)
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When Santiago wakes up, Manolin is at his side with the coffee. Santiago tells Manolin to give the head of... (full context)
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Manolin tells Santiago that the coast guard and search planes looked for him for days. Manolin... (full context)
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When Manolin returns to Santiago's shack, Santiago is sleeping, Manolin watches over Santiago as Santiago dreams of... (full context)