Valiant fishermen show many qualities that separates themselves from others. The Old Man and the Sea, written by Ernest Hemingway cannot be described in any other way other than an incredible novella about an old man overcoming numerous obstacles to snare a great fish, but then losing the marlin to ravenous sharks sailing back home. Even though Santiago loses his great catch, he still regains his dignity. Because Santiago exhibits immense skill and strength throughout the lengthy and strenuous catching of the marlin, Santiago displays Hemingway’s ideal of greatness.
Santiago demonstrates vast skill before, during, and after his hard-fought battle with the marlin. For instance, when Santiago arranges his bait while steadily rowing out to sea: “Each sardine was hooked through both eyes so that they made a half-garland on the projecting steel. There was no part of the hook that a great fish could not feel which was not sweet smelling and good tasting” (31). Santiago displays preparedness and exactness like no other fisherman in Cuba as he organizes his bait.
The old man’s preparedness sets him up for greater chance of catching an enormous fish. When Santiago uses his fishing expertise to his advantage he will be ready when any opportunity materializes. Furthermore, as Santiago uses his fishing skill to his advantage, the old man also employs his physical and mental strength as well as talent to catch the marlin. For example, when the old man has no energy left, he summons more strength out of nowhere to slay the great fish: “He took all his pain and what was left of his strength and . . lifted the harpoon as high as he could and drove it down with all his strength, and the more strength he had just summoned, into the fishes side” (93). The old man barely possesses any strength after holding on to the tightly coiled rope that held the fish for a few days. Yet, Santiago pushes his physical pain aside and uses his mental strength to push him through the pain, and slaughter the great fish. Santiago will suffer at any cost to regain his pride because in his town and culture, pride has more value then money ever will.
Santiago wants to reclaim his dignity so everyone other than Manolin does not think of him as an old geezer who cannot fish anymore, but as the DiMaggio of fishing. Since the old man presents colossal fishing ability beyond that of any other fisherman and such vigor that even a robust man would succumb to the same might and force that Santiago showed, the old man demonstrates excellence of Hemingway’s ideal.
The old man reveals skill such as preparedness and precision throughout the short novella but especially during the moment that Santiago catches the glorious marlin. In addition, Santiago presents his mental and physical power during the time he holds on to the rope connects Santiago to the marlin, never letting go. The old man endures many bumps on his way down the path of success, but through his vast expertise and physical and mental drive he overcomes these bumps and demonstrates prominence beyond that of Hemingway’s ideal of greatness.