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

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What does the marlin symbolize in The Old Man and the Sea?

The marlin in The Old Man and the Sea symbolizes grace, courage, nobility, perseverance, and devotion. In many ways, the fish symbolizes Santiago, who calls him "my brother." The marlin is also a symbol of the Santiago's last act of greatness.

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The marlin symbolizes both a dream come true and a massive hurdle that must be overcome.

Having not caught any fish in 84 days, Santiago was desperate for his luck to change. With fishing being his livelihood, 84 days without a catch had been extremely dire for Santiago—so dire that he had had to part ways with his faithful protege, Manolin. As a result, the unexpected catch of this behemoth-sized marlin could have made all the difference, both to Marlin's bottom line and to his reputation as a fisherman.

The struggle which lay ahead, however, soon became apparent. Santiago had already endured a long day's fishing by the time the marlin came along, and he was already tired. Add to this exhaustion the struggle of holding the rope attached to the marlin, and you can imagine how intense the struggle became. Over and above this, he soon had to face the realization that, rather than getting to take his whole marlin back to shore, he was essentially providing a "meals on wheels" service for...

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