The fish is stubborn too. Both want to win. Although the fish is not really personified, we can imagine him as a survivor. After all, he is fighting for his life.
Santiago is an experienced fisherman. He's lived a long time by his wits and his skill--just like that giant marlin. The fish acts on nothing but survival instinct, and that's exactly what Santiago seems to be doing. They are connected in a way few of us can probably understand. They're connected to the ocean and to each other, which is why Santiago speaks of the fish as his brother.
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Santiago comes to feel his deepest love for the creature that he himself hunts and kills. Both Santiago and the old man are a worthy opponents. They are both great fighters. They both share lives that can be a fateful mix of both incredible beauty and deadly violence. However, Santiago's fight is more for his pride and his profession. The fish just simply wants to survive. During his long ordeal, Santiago comes to pity the marlin and then to respect and to love him. In the end he senses that there can be no victory for either in the equal struggle between them, that the conditions which have brought them together have made them one. And so, though he kills the great fish, the old man has come to love him as his equal and his brother.