The Old Man and the Sea Questions and Answers
by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Analyse how Santiago tries to defy his defeat in The Old Man and the Sea.

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,093 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Santiago first tries to defy defeat by the sharks by fighting them off. He quickly kills the first shark to attack the marlin, stabbing it through the brain with his knife, but its blood attracts other sharks. Santiago fights them valiantly with his knife and kills many. After his knife breaks, he does his best to beat them off with a club he has, along with his oars. Despite being exhausted, Santiago is determined to get to shore alive and with what is left of his valuable carcass. The sharks do eat all the meat, but he sails into harbor with the huge marlin skeleton.

Santiago says “they beat me” when he gets to shore, but his defiance in bringing the boat and marlin bones home safely are a victory of sorts. Santiago also makes use of the marlin head, cutting it up for bait. Santiago's example is a victory too in that it inspires Manolin to say he will fish with him again. Santiago also shows he is not defeated when he dreams of the lions he hunted in Africa, wanting to hunt again.

A theme of the novel is that a person can be destroyed or beaten without being defeated.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial