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The book, The Old Man and the Sea, is about an old man named Santiago who struggles with a gigantic marlin fish. This is a story of his courage, heroism, and strength. In the book, Ernest Hemingway uses Santiago to explore the theme of man and his relations to animals. In this case it is Santiago's relationship to the different fish he catches, especially the giant Marlin fish. Santiago respected, cared, and thought of the fish as equals. The relationship with the fish is shown through many examples and explanations in the following paragraphs.
Santiago truly cared about the huge Marlin fish he caught and this was a part of his relationship with fish. He would talk to his fish and treat them with his utmost care. This is shown as the Santiago states, “I wish it was a dream and that I had never hooked him. I'm sorry about it, fish. It makes everything wrong … I shouldn't have gone out so far fish”(Hemingway 110).
Santiago is truly sorry that he had to go out so far into the water and catch the giant fish. Because he went out so far, the sharks ate the fish on the way back to the port. He did not want his fish to be ripped and eaten by Santiago's worst enemy, the sharks. He wished it were only a dream so that the fish would not have to go through the pain. This example shows how mush he cared for the fish and how his relationship with the fish was affected by his feeling of caring.
Santiago also deeply respects fish in general and this aspect of his relationship to the fish is clearly shown throughout the book. There are many instances where Santiago displays his respect for fish and one of them is stated, “the Old Man hit [the albacore fish] on the head for kindness and kicked him, his body shuddering, under the shade of the stern” (Hemingway 39). This shows Santiago's respect and feelings for the albacore fish. Hitting the fish on the head and kicking the fish is a sign of respect. Another example of Santiago's respect for a fish is when he describes the fish, “never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother” (Hemingway 92).
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"The Old Man and the Sea - A Fish Story." 123HelpMe.com. 22 Feb 2020
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Santiago considers himself and fish equal. This, as well as caring and respect, plays a role in the relationship between Santiago and fish. As the author states, “the fish is my friend too … I have never seen or heard of such a fish. But I must kill him … but is it good that we do not try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our brothers” (Hemingway 75).
This shows how Santiago thinks he is equal to the fish but he recognizes that he must kill the fish. He says the fish is his brother and a friend. Being a brother or a friend means he respects the fish and he considers himself on the same level as the fish. Santiago doesn't look down on the fish as being inferior; he looks at the fish as an equal which is part of the relationship between Santiago and the fish.
Santiago cared for each fish he caught and treated fish with the utmost care. He respected the fish and always showed his respect by thanking the fish or by performing a symbolic “thank you.” He thought fish were equals, not as being inferior. He loved the fish he caught. In conclusion, Santiago and his relationship with fish in general was made up of caring, respect, and the idea of fish being equal.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. Boston: Simon & Schuster Trade, 1995.