The theme of Pride in The Old Man and the Sea from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

The Old Man and the Sea

Themes and Colors
Resistance to Defeat Theme Icon
Pride Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
Man and Nature Theme Icon
Christian Allegory Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Old Man and the Sea, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Pride Theme Icon

Pride is often depicted as negative attribute that causes people to reach for too much and, as a result, suffer a terrible fall. After he kills the first shark, Santiago, who knows he killed the marlin "for pride," wonders if the sin of pride was responsible for the shark attack because pride caused him to go out into the ocean beyond the usual boundaries that fishermen observe. Santiago immediately dismisses the idea, however, and the events of The Old Man and the Sea support his conviction that pride is not the cause of his difficulties.

In fact, Santiago's pride is portrayed as the single motivating force that spurs him to greatness. It is his pride that pushes him to survive three grueling days at sea, battling the marlin and then the sharks. Yet it is important to recognize that Santiago's pride is of a particular, limited sort. Pride never pushes him to try to be more than he is. For instance, when Manolin tells him, "The best fisherman is you," early in the story, Santiago humbly disagrees. Rather, Santiago takes pride in being exactly what he is, a man and a fisherman, and his struggle can be seen as an effort to be the best man and fisherman that he can be. As he thinks in the middle of his struggle with the marlin, he must kill the marlin to show Manolin "what a man can do and what a man endures." Santiago achieves the crucial balance between pride and humility—that "[humility] was not disgraceful and it carried no true loss of pride."

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Pride ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Pride appears in each chapter of The Old Man and the Sea. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Pride Quotes in The Old Man and the Sea

Below you will find the important quotes in The Old Man and the Sea related to the theme of Pride.
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Day Four Quotes
"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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
"A man can be destroyed but not defeated."
Related Characters: Santiago (speaker)
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile