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

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On page 75 of The Old Man and the Sea, what is the meaning of Santiago's words, "I'm glad we do not have to kill the stars"?

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Santiago’s words “I’m glad we do not have to kill the stars” pertain to the complex relationship between man and nature.

Just before he utters the quote, Santiago kills a marlin. As he struggles with the marlin, Santiago feels opposing emotions of pain and victory. He feels the fish’s pain as he is about to conquer the marlin. At the same time, he is determined to come out the victor in the struggle. The marlin’s eventual death breathes life into Santiago’s deflating confidence. Capturing the marlin boosts his determination to succeed.

After reflecting on the cruelty of hunting, he looks at the stars and feels grateful that hunting does not extend to the celestial bodies. The stars represent an escape from the cruel animal nature of man. The quote pertains to Santiago’s need to transcend the primitive animal instincts of predator and prey, and symbolizes his desire to be one with nature, without the need to hunt or kill for survival.

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