What is symbolic about Santiago stopping 5 times to rest when carrying the mast?
If you subscribe to the theory that there are references to Christianity throughout the story, the number five could be related to the five piercings of Christ's body during the crucifixion - two hands, two feet, and in his side. The mast, as part of Santiago's boat, was critical to the return of Santiago and the skeleton of the marlin to port, as the death of Christ is the centerpiece of the Christian faith. The carrying of the mast could also be a parallel to Christ carrying the cross to his crucifixion and the pauses along the way.
first of all , Hemingway is existantialist he believes not in god nor he knows how to pray when he was praying to catch the fish , he stopped to rest for 5 times because he was very old and barely walk, and ofcourse he is very old and relys on his skills not on his mucsles