What is Santiago's role as fisherman in The Old Man and the Sea? How do the villagers view him? How would you describe the relationship between Santiago and Manolin?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Santiago is a career fisherman and protagonist of the story, who has gone eighty-four days without catching a fish, and the villagers have begun to laugh at him for his bad luck. While the majority of the villagers view him as a laughingstock, others feel bad for Santiago and believe that he is salao, which is the worst form of unlucky. Despite Santiago's past success, the villagers no longer consider him an expert fisherman and believe that he is past his prime. Although the villagers view Santiago as an unlucky man, they are not malevolent towards him and still get along with the old man. Santiago is a relatively easygoing man, who lives in poverty and minds his own business in the village. Santiago decides to prove his worth as an expert fisherman by catching a massive marlin on his own.

Hemingway writes that Manolin loves Santiago and reveres him as an experienced fisherman. Despite his parents' feelings regarding Santiago, Manolin cherishes the old man and serves him any way possible even though he is no longer allowed to fish with him because of the old man's bad luck. The boy sympathizes with Santiago's unfortunate situation and buys the old man beer and sardines as a way to demonstrate his love. Santiago is Manolin's mentor and has taught him essential fishing techniques over the years. Manolin not only respects Santiago but enjoys his company, and the two characters truly care about each other.

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Santiago is an elderly fisherman. Although he is skilled, experienced, and patient, he has not caught a fish for 85 days. He owns his own small skiff and works as a freelance fisherman, being paid for individual catches rather than being on salary as part of a fleet.

He is generally liked and admired by the villagers, who are willing to supply him with free food and generally view him as a good person. His long period without catching fish makes him "salao, which is the worst form of unlucky," which causes Manolin's parents to wish their son would not fish with him. 

Manolin was Santiago's apprentice and looks up to and loves the old man. Santiago is a mentor to Manolin, and loves him like a son. Part of Manolin's coming of age is his evolution from a child who is taught by the old man into a young man who acts as a caregiver for his aging mentor. 

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The Old Man and the Sea

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