Many people find it hard to believe that the struggle between fish and fisherman is really a struggle at all. In The Old Man and the Sea Ernest Hemingway shows how very hard this struggle can be. Hemingway portrays the story of an old fisherman, Santiago, who has not caught a fish in the past eighty-four days. On the eighty-fifth day Santiago hooks a huge blue marlin that proceeds to pull Santiago and his skiff out to sea for four days. Through his struggle Santiago proves himself as a courageous, wise, and strong-willed man.
Through Santiago's struggle the reader sees his courage. Santiago shows his courage first when he ventures into very deep water with just his little skiff and no partner or life preserver to save him if he falls overboard. Santiago's situation becomes even more dangerous when he is fighting with the fish. If the fish gives a sudden tug on the line and Santiago gets caught in it he might lose balance and will most surely be pulled overboard and drown. Santiago also shows courage when he battles with the sharks as they try to demolish his marlin. When the sharks first appear Santiago uses the harpoon, but after the shark takes that he makes his own spear, when the spear breaks he uses the club. When all else fails Santiago uses his fists to fight the sharks, even though he knows that his arm could be taken just as easily as the other weapons. Another indication of Santiago's courage is that he is not afraid of going out past the sight of land without the aid of any kind of navigational devices. "Then he looked behind him and saw that no land was visible. That makes no difference, he thought."(p.46). It is not what the old man says, but how he says it. In this instance he thinks as if it is very normal to be out of the sight of land with no compass. Truly throughout his struggles Santiago shows himself as brave.
Through his struggle Santiago shows himself to be wise in the ways of fishing. All of the actions that Santiago makes on the skiff shows him to be wise. Santiago shows his wisdom in setting the hook, letting the fish eat just enough of the bait then fighting with all his might. He also shows his wisdom in how he knows that, "I could make the line fast. But then he could break it. I must hold him all I can and give him line when he must have it."(p.45) Santiago also demonstrates his wisdom in his eating habits. Santiago knows when to eat the smaller fish that he catches to draw the most nourishment from their meat. Santiago shows his wisdom in his navigation skills and his knowledge of the geography of the sea that he fishes. "...the glow of Havana was not so strong, so that he knew the current must be carrying them eastward. If I lose the glare of Havana we must be going more to the eastward, he thought."(p.47) Truly through his statements and actions Santiago shows himself as a man, wise in the ways of the fisherman.
Santiago's most important trait is his strong and enduring will. His strong will is shown as he remembers his arm wrestling match with the Negro when he was young. Santiago, then a young man, arm wrestled with the Negro man for one day and one night and on the morning of the second day Santiago "unleashed his effort and forced the hand of the Negro down and down until it rested on the wood."(p.69-70) In this instance Santiago uses his strong will to overcome the strength of a larger and stronger man. Santiago also shows his strong and enduring will when "he decided he could beat anyone if he wanted to badly enough..."(p.70) Santiago shows his strong and enduring will when he battles with a 1,500 lb. fish for four days. After Santiago hooks the fish, the huge marlin proceeded to pull Santiago and his skiff for miles out to sea. the most amazing part is that it was Santiago's strong hands and back that served as the towing bit between the fish that was towing his skiff. After