Part of what makes Santiago such a heroic character in Hemingway's work is precisely that he does not succeed in his quest. Santiago does not catch the marlin. In this, he fails. Yet, the narrative is not about achievement. The redemption in the novel is precisely because he fails. In this light, one sees the power of dreams and the intrinsic beauty of freedom. Endeavor is more essential than accomplishment. Santiago is a heroic character because he dreams, and because he acts upon his freedom. It is in this that one recognizes Hemingway's fundamental point about the human predicament:
...the struggle to achieve one’s dreams is still worthwhile, for without dreams, a human remains a mere physical presence in the universe, with no creative or spiritual dimension.
For this reason, the novel celebrates endeavor rather than achievement.