Old Man in the Sea can be read as metafiction: fiction about fiction. In this sense, Hemingway (the author) is the Old Man, Santiago. Manolin is the next generation of writers, those who would follow in Hemingway's footsteps and emulate his style (Camus, DeLillo, McCarthy).
The book, The Old Man and The Sea, is the marlin. Hemingway as an artist is venturing out in the artistic community, the sea. The sharks are literary critics, those who try to take a bite out of his art.
Hemingway seems to be saying that the modern artist must suffer once he has finished a novel (caught a great fish) at the hands of critics. This is his cross to bear. What is left, in the end, is a skeleton, a shell of his original artistic vision.
Some critics have commented that in the novel 'The Old Man andd the Sea' Ernest Hemingway found a 'kindred spirit' for his macho life experiences in the machismo of Cuban culture. He was even accused of being attracted to violence for its own sake - and here indeed we see the fisherman contemplating the ethics of killing fish for the sake of killing and pride alone. In that sense, Hemingway transposed his experiences into the book. Hemingway too tried to challenge himself both through his mind and intellect and within his friendships and works. He carried this over into his physical life experiences too through pitting himself against the elements of boxing, soldiering,hunting,sport, fishing, and bullfighting. Look at these headings and find traces and quotes in the novel.
Earnest Hemingway was living in Cuba at the time in which he wrote "The Old Man and the Sea." Hemingway spent a lot of time combating nature. He was a hunter, fisherman, and enjoyed conquering nature. He enjoyed the simple life while living in Cuba, even though he lived in a comfortable estate, and developed friendships with the fishermen. During the day Hemingway was known for drinking with the locals and catching marlins from the sea. He liked a good challenge. His character traits were consisting with those of Santiago in their quest for the marlin. Santiago, the main character and protagonist in the story, was a man who had great pride. Hemingway was also a man of great pride who had to accomplish things in life to feel good.
One of the most interesting facts about “The Old Man and the Sea” is that it was one of the last great works written by Hemingway. The book was well received by the public and sold many copies and earned Hemingway a lot of fan mail. Hemingway needed the accomplishment just as Santiago needs to catch the fish. The marlin was Santiago’s restoration to himself because it proved to Santiago that he was still an accomplished fisherman. Hemingway’s book proved to Hemingway that he was still a gifted and well received writer.