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

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Describe the relationship between the man and the boy in The Old Man and the Sea.

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The relationship between Manolin and Santiago is one of apprentice and teacher that grows into a deeper, meaningful friendship. Manolin looks up to Santiago and respects him as a once successful fisherman despite his parents' feelings towards the old man. He also views the old man as his spiritual father and inspiration. In turn, Santiago selflessly teaches Manolin his craft and is sympathetic to his needs. Unlike Manolin's father, Santiago shows concern and genuine interest in Manolin. There is also a mutual respect between Santiago and Manolin. Santiago respects the fact that Manolin is willing to carry on his legacy and trusts him to do so. Santiago develops a love for Manolin and views him like a son. In turn, Manolin appreciates the opportunity to learn from the old man and shows great affection for Santiago. Their relationship begins as apprentice/teacher and transforms into father/son. 

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kimfuji eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The role os Manolin is that of an apprentice or son. Manolin represents the new and Santiago is the old. However Manolin is forbidden by his father to spend time with Santiago, Manolin still goes. As time proceeds and their relationship develops Manolin respects Santiago even more. He chooses Santiago's way over his father's. Manolin was used by Hemingway to bring out Santiago's qualities even more. Without Manolin the reader would know less about Santiago.

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I believe that the simple sentence that describes the relationship between the old man and the boy is

"The old man had taught the boy to fish and the boy loved him".

Santiago had taken the boy, Manolin, under his wing when the boy was only five years old.  They had gone out in the boat, and Santiago remembers that the boy had very nearly been killed when he brought the fish in too green and "he nearly tore the boat to pieces".  The boy clearly remembers details of that incident, but does not seem to have been afraid; he recalls Santiago "throwing (him) into the bow where the wet coiled lines were" to keep him safely out of the way.  Santiago has always included Manolin in all aspects of his craft, and the boy appreciates that.  His own father prefers to do things on his own, and sometimes makes the boy feel "inferior".  Santiago makes the boy feel capable, and Manolin thinks the old man is "the best fisherman", far better than the "many good fishermen and some great ones" of which he knows.

Manolin is obedient to his father, but it is Santiago whom he loves.  His father has forbidden the boy to fish with Santiago because he thinks the old man is no longer an effective fisherman; Manolin "must obey" because "(he) is a boy", but still, he has faith in Santiago.  Despite not being allowed to fish with him anymore, Manolin looks after Santiago, making sure he has bait and food, and lovingly anticipating his needs.  Realizing that the village water supply is a good distance from the old man's home, he brings him water and washing supplies, and plans to "get him another shirt and a jacket for the winter and some sort of shoes and another blanket".

Santiago and Manolin enjoy each others' company, and share a mutual respect.  Their relationship is based on love, and they look out for each other like a father and a son, Santiago having taught the boy his trade when he was young, and Manolin looking after Santiago now that he is old.

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S.L. Watson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Hemingway creates a very powerful, poignant relationship between the old man, Santiago, and the young boy, Manolin. At the onset of the novel, even though the entire town has turned against Santiago, because he is salao, truly unlucky,Manolin still cares and believes in Santiago. The young boy can no longer fish with the old man;his parents forbid it. However, by the end of the novel, Manolin makes his own decision to fish with Santiago.Santiago undergoes the trial with the marlin, nearly losing himself, his soul, when the fish is torn apart by sharks for no reason at all. Manolin cares for Santiago upon his return to the village.Santiago sees youth in Manolin, a young boy who is not scarred by the world as he is;Manolin is the hope for a new day, necessary to the Hemingway code hero.

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malibrarian eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The relationship between the boy, Manolin, and the old man, Santiago, is one of caring and friendship. Manolin used to fish with Santiago, but has now been forbidden by his father to go with the old man anymore because of Santiago's recent run of bad luck. Manolin still manages to go see Santiago, though, doing various small jobs for him, bringing him beer at the beginning of the story.

Manolin even tells Santiago that he will try to get his father to fish near where Santiago is planning to fish, so that when Santiago catches a big one, they can be nearby to come to his aid. This shows another dimension to their relationship - while everyone else in the town has decided that Santiago is bad luck and nothing good will ever happen to him again, Manolin is still convinced of Santiago's greatness as a fisherman and that it is just a matter of time before the bad streak ends. By the same token, Santiago is encouraging and trusting of Manolin, convinced of his worth as a fisherman, even though Manolin's own father doesn't think he's capable of very much.

The element of respect and trust between these two characters is quite moving to read. Check the links below for more information - Good luck!


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paynelover42 | Student

They both trust eachother. For Manolin, Santiago is like his friend, family, and his role model. Nothing can change their relationship. 

surajverma8 | Student

The Old Man and the Sea is a heroic tale of man's strength pitted against forces he cannot control. It is a story about an old Cuban fisherman and his three-day battle with a giant Marlin.  The relationship between Santiago and the boy is introduced early in the story. They are unlikely companions; one is old and the other young, yet they share an insuperable amount of respect and loyalty for each other. Santiago does not treat Manolin as a young boy but rather as an equal. Age is not a factor in their relationship. Manolin does not even act as a young boy; he is mature and sensitive to Santiago's feelings. He even offers to disobey his parents and accompany Nonetheless Manolin is loyal to Santiago and even when his parents forbid him he wants to help his friend. Their conversations are comfortable, like that of two friends who have known each other for a long time. When they speak it is usually about baseball or fishing, the two things they have most in common.  In this way Santiago not only teaches Manolin about fishing but also about important characteristics such as faith. In the story Santiago's bravery is unsurpassed but it is not until he hooks the great fish that we truly see his valor and perseverance.   Although Santiago has had many troubles he perseveres. He has faith in Manolin, in the Yankees, in Joe DiMaggio, and most importantly in himself.  After he hooks the Marlin he frequently recalls his battle with a native in what he calls the hand game. It is not just an arm wrestling victory for him it is a reminder of his youthful days. 

 AlthoughSantiago's perseverance and bravery are further illustrated when he tries to fight off the sharks. He was a fisherman all his life and therefore he knows that the fate of his catch is inevitable yet he persists to fight the sharks. The battle between him and the sharks is about principles not a mere fish. Santiago is still a great warrior at heart and warriors fight until the end. One of the greatest and most obvious pieces of symbolism in the story is Christianity. From the beginning of the story the reader is shown a unique relationship between Santiago and Manolin. Their relationship parallels that of Christ and his disciples. Manolin is Santiago's disciple and Santiago teaches Manolin about fishing and life. One of the greatest lessons that Santiago gives is that of a simple faith. Have faith in the Yankees my son. This type of faith reflects the basic principles of Christianity. Hemingway's description of Santiago further illustrates Christian symbolism.  Hemingway also parallels Santiago's suffering to that of Christ by stating that he settled …against the wood and took his suffering as it came. Even more profound is the description of Santiago's response when he saw the sharks, just a noise such a man might make, involuntarily feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood. (Page 107) . He does not smother the relationship between the old man and the young boy but instead separates them for a large part of the story.