During the course of the short narrative of The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway sets up Santiago as a dignified and humble individual who heroically strives against great odds. Though the story begins with Santiago's recent (and prolonged) failures as a fisherman, Hemingway's characterization doesn't evoke an overabundance of pity; instead, as we get to know Santiago, we begin to understand that he stands apart from either his successes or his failures in the professional realm. His dignity and stoic strength exist apart from catching (or failing to catch) fish, resting instead upon his bravery in the face of extreme toil and struggle. Furthermore, Santiago reveals himself as a man with great respect for nature, as his epic battle with the marlin causes the old fisherman to admire the fish and almost regret catching it. All in all, Santiago proves himself to be a man who possesses not only astounding inner fortitude and nobility, but also profound humility, as he shows he is not afraid to respect forces whose strengths are greater than his own.