The Old Man and the Sea

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Lions Symbol Icon
Both in his bed in the village and in his boat, Santiago dreams of lions on the beaches of Africa, which he saw when he was a boy on a ship that sailed and fished the coast of Africa. The lions symbolize Santiago's lost youth as well as his pride (a group of lions is called a "pride"). Santiago's love for the lions, which are fierce predators, also mirrors his relationship with the marlin, whom he loves but whose death he feels is necessary to his survival. In this way, the lions as also symbolize Santiago's affinity with nature. Now that Santiago is no longer young, and has lost his friends, family, and strength, he sees the lions only in his dreams. Santiago's dreams of the lions at the end of the novella suggest that in triumphing over the marlin, he has undergone his own rejuvenation.
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Lions Symbol Timeline in The Old Man and the Sea

The timeline below shows where the symbol Lions appears in The Old Man and the Sea. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Day One
Pride Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
...his time as a youth on a ship that sailed to Africa, and about the lions he saw on the beaches there. (full context)
Pride Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
...women, fish, fights, or his wife. He dreams only "of places now and of the lions on the beach" in Africa. (full context)
Day Three
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
Pride Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
As the day approaches its end, Santiago wishes he could sleep and dream of the lions again. Then he wonders why the lions are the only things left for him to... (full context)
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
Pride Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
...and his hand asleep from having slept on it. Finally, his dreams turn to the lions walking along the long yellow beach in the early dark, and he is happy. (full context)
Day Five
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
Pride Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
...to Santiago's shack, Santiago is sleeping, Manolin watches over Santiago as Santiago dreams of playing lions. (full context)