The Old Man, Santiago, knows the sea better than he knew anyone else because he worked and lived by the sea his whole life. When it came to the sea, he was a professional. He likens the sea to a female whose moods can change from one minute to the next. He knows that the sea will only give him what he wants after he is patient and proves himself, just like the relationships between men and women. He has a love/hate relationship with the sea because like women, he knows that a man can't live with them and can't live without them. The sea is also something for him to conquer; it is something bigger and more complex than himself, but he knows how to survive while in it. He knows what to do and when to do it depending on the mood of the sea and so he can come off as the conqueror. He loves her one minute and is angry at her the next. He even calls her a few choice words to describe his anger. In the end, he has a deep respect for the sea's strength and capabilities as an element and structure in nature.