The Old Man and the Sea Characters

The Old Man and the Sea key characters:

  • In The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago, the aging fisherman of the title, isn’t daunted by his run of bad luck; his dignity, humility, and compassion never leave him despite his suffering.

  • Manolin, Santiago’s former apprentice, was forced to leave his friend when his father demanded he work for a luckier fisherman; he continues to bring Santiago food and bait, and plans to fish with him again at the story’s end.

  • The marlin, Santiago’s adversary and “brother,” is 18 feet long and the largest Santiago has ever seen; his battle with Santiago is a heroic celebration of man and nature.

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Santiago (sahn-tee-AH-goh), an old Cuban fisherman, the protagonist. He is a simple man who loves and respects the sea and all the life within it. On his search for the great marlin, his young friend Manolin fishes with him for forty days, but then Santiago fishes alone among the elements. After eighty-four days of fishing without a catch, the old man’s patience is rewarded. He hooks a huge marlin but then must engage in an exhausting three-day struggle with it. In his battle with the marlin, Santiago begins to identify with the fish, feeling a brotherhood with it and almost a sense of guilt about the idea of killing it. This feeling of solidarity and interdependence between the old man and the marlin pervades the action of the story. The old man’s heroic individualism and his love for his fellow creatures is evident throughout. After finally harpooning it, he attaches the marlin to the bow and stern of his boat, but sharks begin to devour his catch. Santiago’s next battle, with the sharks, proves impossible to win, and Santiago reaches shore with only a skeleton, worthless except as a symbol of his victory. In his struggle with the giant marlin, Santiago pushes himself to the limits of his physical and mental endurance. A man with native intelligence and a strong will to survive, Santiago bears tragedy with great humility and dignity.


Manolin (mahn-oh-LEEN), a young Cuban boy whom Santiago teaches to fish. He becomes Santiago’s fishing partner and fishes with the old man until the young man’s father forbids it. He becomes Santiago’s closest and most devoted friend, and Santiago becomes the boy’s substitute father. Manolin is so devoted to the old man that he begs and steals so that the old man does not go hungry; he also finds fresh bait for Santiago. In the time they spend together, Santiago and the boy talk at length about fishing, hunting, American baseball, and one of the old man’s heroes, Joe DiMaggio, the great Yankee outfielder. In his discussion of DiMaggio, Santiago wishes to teach Manolin about physical and psychological endurance, about being a “team player,” and about being a champion.

The marlin

The marlin, an eighteen-foot fish weighing more than a thousand pounds, the largest ever caught in the Gulf Stream. Santiago views the marlin as a mixture of incredible beauty and deadly violence. He and the marlin are equal partners in the battle of human against nature. They both emerge as heroes.


Martin (mahr-TEEN), the owner of the Terrace. He gives food to Manolin to give to Santiago.


Pedrico (peh-DREE-koh), a fisherman to whom Santiago gives the marlin’s head, for use in his fish traps.


Rogelio (rroh-HEH-lee-oh), a young boy who once helped Santiago with his fish nets.

The Old Man and the Sea Themes and Characters

The small cast of characters in The Old Man and the Sea consists of Santiago, the old fisherman, and Manolin, the boy who has fished...

(The entire section is 507 words.)

The Old Man and the Sea Characters

In this short novel (or novella), the cast of characters is small. Everything centers on Santiago, and it is through his consciousness that...

(The entire section is 401 words.)

The Old Man and the Sea Character Analysis

The Old Man and the Sea Character Overview

Character Overview
The Old Man and the Sea gives a unique opportunity for a detailed study of one character—the...

(The entire section is 984 words.)

The Old Man and the Sea Manolin

Manolin is a young man, based on someone Hemingway knew in Cuba who was then in his twenties. In the story, however, Manolin is referred to...

(The entire section is 308 words.)

The Old Man and the Sea Santiago

Spencer Tracy starring in the title role of the 1956 film The Old Man and the Sea. Published by Gale Cengage

Santiago is an old fisherman of undetermined age. As a young man he traveled widely by ship and fondly remembers seeing lions on the beaches...

(The entire section is 678 words.)

The Old Man and the Sea Other Characters

Bodega Proprietor
Although he is unnamed in the story, the bodega proprietor serves the important function of...

(The entire section is 177 words.)