The Old Man and the Sea

Santiago Character Analysis

The protagonist of the novella, Santiago is an elderly widowed Cuban fisherman whose "luck" seems to have run out—he hasn't caught anything in 84 days. Santiago is humble in his dealings with others, yet takes great pride in his work and himself, and is frustrated and embarrassed by his failures. He views his aging body as a kind of betrayer, and fondly remembers his younger days, when he was exceptionally strong and a successful fisherman. Other than fishing, Santiago's greatest joys are the time he spends with his former apprentice, Manolin, and the time he spends talking about baseball, and, in particular, his favorite player, the "great DiMaggio." Besides Manolin, Santiago considers his only friends to be the sea, the fish, and the stars. In his conquest over the marlin, Santiago exhibits exceptional determination and endurance in the face of physical and psychological pain. Although he loses the marlin to sharks, the entire struggle constitutes a spiritual triumph in which Santiago emerges as a Christ figure.

Santiago Quotes in The Old Man and the Sea

The The Old Man and the Sea quotes below are all either spoken by Santiago or refer to Santiago. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of The Old Man and the Sea published in 1952.
Day One Quotes
Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.
Related Characters: Santiago
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

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"There are many good fishermen and some great ones. But there is only you."
Related Characters: Manolin (speaker), Santiago
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Day Two Quotes
Why did they make birds so delicate and fine as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel? She is kind and very beautiful. But she can be so cruel and it comes so suddenly and such birds that fly, dipping and hunting, with their small sad voices are made too delicately for the sea.
Related Characters: Santiago (speaker)
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

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But the old man always thought of her as feminine and as something that gave or withheld great favors, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them. The moon affects her as it does a woman, he thought.
Related Characters: Santiago
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

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He is wonderful and strange and who knows how old he is, he thought. Never have I had such a strong fish nor one who acted so strangely... He cannot know that it is only one man against him, nor that it is an old man.
Related Characters: Santiago (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Marlin
Page Number: 48-49
Explanation and Analysis:

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Now we are joined together and have been since noon. And no one to help either of us.
Related Characters: Santiago (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Marlin
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

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Day Three Quotes
"Fish, I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends."
Related Characters: Santiago (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Marlin
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

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The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.
Related Characters: Santiago
Page Number: 60-61
Explanation and Analysis:

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"If I were him I would put in everything now and go until something broke. But, thank God, they are not as intelligent as we who kill them; although they are more noble and more able."
Related Characters: Santiago (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Marlin
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

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But I must have the 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.
Related Characters: Santiago (speaker)
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

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"It is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers."
Related Characters: Santiago (speaker)
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

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Day Four Quotes
You are killing me, fish, the old man thought. But you have a right to. Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who.
Related Characters: Santiago (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Marlin
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

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"God help me endure. I'll say a hundred Our Fathers and a hundred Hail Marys. But I cannot say them now."
Related Characters: Santiago (speaker)
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

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Then the fish came alive, with his death in him, and rose high out of the water showing all his great length and width and all his power and his beauty. He seemed to hang in the air above the old man in the skiff. Then he fell into the water with a crash that sent spray over the old man and over all of the skiff.
Related Characters: Santiago
Related Symbols: The Marlin
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

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You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?
Related Characters: Santiago (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Marlin
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

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"A man can be destroyed but not defeated."
Related Characters: Santiago (speaker)
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

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He stopped for a moment and looked back and saw in the reflection from the street light the great tail of the fish standing up well behind the skiff's stern. He saw the white naked line of his backbone and the dark mass of the head…
Related Characters: Santiago
Related Symbols: The Marlin
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:

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He started to climb again and at the top he fell and lay for some time with the mast across his shoulder.
Related Characters: Santiago
Related Symbols: The Mast
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:

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Santiago Character Timeline in The Old Man and the Sea

The timeline below shows where the character Santiago 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
Santiago is an elderly fisherman who has gone 84 days without catching a fish. For the... (full context)
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
Man and Nature Theme Icon
Santiago's face and hands are deeply scarred from so many years of handling fishing gear and... (full context)
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
Pride Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
After Santiago's 84th unsuccessful day, Manolin once again helps him to bring in his skiff and gear.... (full context)
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
Pride Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Manolin offers to buy Santiago a beer on the Terrace, a restaurant near the docks. The other fishermen at the... (full context)
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
Pride Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
Man and Nature Theme Icon
Over their beers, Santiago tells Manolin that he will be fishing far out in the sea the next day.... (full context)
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
Christian Allegory Theme Icon
After they finish the beer, Manolin helps Santiago carry his equipment up the road to Santiago's sparsely furnished shack. On the wall are... (full context)
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
Pride Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
Pride Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
Pride Theme Icon
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Manolin leaves to get the sardines he promised Santiago. When he returns, it is dark and Santiago is asleep on the porch. Manolin covers... (full context)
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Manolin reminds himself to bring Santiago water, soap, and a towel, as well as a new shirt, jacket and shoes. (full context)
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Santiago then reminisces about his time as a youth on a ship that sailed to Africa,... (full context)
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Manolin breaks in to say that he thinks Santiago is the best fisherman. Santiago humbly disagrees, but acknowledges that although he is no longer... (full context)
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When Manolin leaves, Santiago wraps himself in the blanket and lies down on the newspapers that cover the springs... (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,... (full context)
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Santiago drinks his coffee, thinking how he will not eat all day because eating has bored... (full context)
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Santiago rows over "the great well," where the ocean suddenly drops to 700 fathoms and where... (full context)
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Santiago thinks of the sea as "la mar," as a woman who can give or withhold... (full context)
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Santiago decides to fish past the deep wells, because he caught nothing in the wells the... (full context)
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Santiago sees a sea bird diving into the sea in the distance. He rows toward it,... (full context)
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In the late morning, one of Santiago's lines suddenly tightens and Santiago pulls in a silver, 10-pound tuna. He observes out loud... (full context)
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Around noon, Santiago feels a tentative pull on one of his lines. He thinks it must be a... (full context)
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The marlin starts to move away, pulling Santiago's skiff with it. The marlin pulls the skiff all day, as Santiago braces in his... (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... (full context)
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Santiago remembers when he and Manolin caught a female marlin, one of a pair. She fought... (full context)
Day Three
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Before daylight, something takes hold of one of Santiago's other baits, which are still in the water. Santiago quickly cuts all of his other... (full context)
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After Santiago cuts the other lines, the marlin makes a sudden, surging dive that pulls Santiago downward.... (full context)
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The marlin continues to pull the boat to the northeast. Santiago senses that while the fish doesn't seem to be tiring, it is swimming at a... (full context)
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A warbler (small song bird) flying south lands on the marlin's line. Santiago talks to the bird, wondering why it is so tired. When he considers the hawks... (full context)
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As Santiago is talking to the bird, the marlin lurches again and the bird flies away. Santiago... (full context)
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As he tries to nurse his cramped hand, Santiago sees a flock of wild ducks in the sky and realizes that no man is... (full context)
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Santiago holds the line with both hands to keep the fish from breaking the line. He... (full context)
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Santiago has seen many fish over 1000 pounds and caught two fish of that size in... (full context)
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Although Santiago is not religious, he promises to say 10 Hail Marys and 10 Our Fathers if... (full context)
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Realizing it will be dark soon, Santiago decides to rebait a small line to catch some more food. He thinks about why... (full context)
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As the day approaches its end, Santiago wishes he could sleep and dream of the lions again. Then he wonders why the... (full context)
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Eventually Santiago's hand uncramps, but he feels tired. He hopes that the marlin also feels tired. If... (full context)
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To prop up his own confidence, Santiago remembers when, as a young man in Casablanca, he arm-wrestled a great "negro" who was... (full context)
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Just before dark, Santiago's small line is taken by a dolphin. He pulls the dolphin into the boat and... (full context)
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When it becomes completely dark, the stars come out. Santiago thinks of the stars as his friends. The marlin is also his friend, he thinks,... (full context)
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Santiago rests for two hours, after which he decides to eat the dolphin he caught. When... (full context)
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Finally Santiago falls asleep. He dreams at first of a vast school of mating porpoises leaping in... (full context)
Day Four
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The marlin suddenly surges, waking Santiago. In the darkness, he sees the marlin jump from the water, again and again. The... (full context)
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Desperate not to lose his strength from nausea, Santiago wipes the dolphin meat from his face. He examines his hands, which look almost like... (full context)
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As the sun rises, the marlin begins circling the skiff. Santiago now slowly fights the fish for line, pulling it closer to the boat inch by... (full context)
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As the marlin comes in closer, Santiago takes out his harpoon. He tries several times to harpoon the marlin, but misses, growing... (full context)
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Santiago estimates the marlin weighs about 1500 pounds, too big for Santiago to pull inside the... (full context)
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As he works, Santiago thinks about how much money the marlin will bring, then imagines how proud of him... (full context)
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Santiago begins sailing southwest, toward Cuba. He is hungry, and eats some tiny shrimp he finds... (full context)
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An hour after Santiago killed the marlin, a big Mako shark appears, having caught the scent of the marlin's... (full context)
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...flesh from the marlin. More blood now pours from the marlin into the water, which Santiago knows will only attract more sharks. It seems to Santiago that his battle with the... (full context)
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Santiago tries to remain hopeful. He considers it silly, or even sinful, to not be hopeful.... (full context)
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Santiago leans over, strips off a piece of the marlin from where the shark bit it,... (full context)
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Two hours later, two shovel-nosed sharks approach. When he sees them, Santiago makes a noise that the narrator describes as a sound a man might make as... (full context)
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Santiago kills the sharks using a knife that he's lashed to an oar, but not before... (full context)
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A lone shovel-nose shark attacks. Santiago kills it with his knife, but loses the knife in the process. Two more sharks... (full context)
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When it finally gets dark, however, Santiago can't see Havana. He tells God he still owes him many prayers that he will... (full context)
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Around midnight, a pack of sharks attacks the skiff. Santiago uses all his strength to fight them off with his oar and club, and finally,... (full context)
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Santiago spits blood into the water and tells the sharks to dream that they ate a... (full context)
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It is still dark when Santiago sails into the harbor. The lights on the Terrace are out, and he knows everyone... (full context)
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Santiago removes the mast of his skiff and wraps the sail around it. He rests the... (full context)
Day Five
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Santiago is asleep when Manolin comes to his shack in the morning. Though relieved to see... (full context)
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Near the water, many fisherman have gathered to look at the marlin's skeleton attached to Santiago's skiff. They estimate its length at 18 feet. When they see Manolin, they ask him... (full context)
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When Santiago wakes up, Manolin is at his side with the coffee. Santiago tells Manolin to give... (full context)
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Manolin tells Santiago that the coast guard and search planes looked for him for days. Manolin then says... (full context)
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When Manolin returns to Santiago's shack, Santiago is sleeping, Manolin watches over Santiago as Santiago dreams of playing lions. (full context)