OLD MAN AND THE SEA

4. Character Sketch of Santiago

Q:4 Write a character sketch of Santiago.
Or What are the main qualities of Santiago’s character?
Or Santiago is the central figure of the novel. Do you agree? Discuss Santiago as the hero of the novel. 2001-I.

Ans: Santiago is the central figure or hero of the novel. Whole of the story of novel revolves around him. He is a brave old fisherman. He fishes alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream near Havana. The old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck. His hands had the scars from handling heavy fish on the cords.
The Old man is weak, yet he has full confidence in his strength. He fights with the huge and sharks bravely. He loses everything. But he is not ready to accept defeat. He is a code hero in the novel because he displays the qualities of courage, dignity, honour, dedication and endurance. He has bad luck but he still dares to fight.
Santiago is always hopeful and optimist. During his stay at the sea for three days and three nights, all alone in his boat, he is always hopeful. When the sharks attack the marlin attached to his boat, he says, I will fight them until I die. He himself says, Man is not made for defeat. He never loses heart. He is a staunch optimist.
Santiago is an expert fisherman proud of his art. He knows how to row in different parts of the sea according to the weather condition. His knowledge about fish is also very high. Santiago is a symbol of courage, hope and faith. He also is compassionate and humanistic by nature. He loves birds, fish, sea stars, every lifeless object and living creature. (253)
5. Santiago’s Physical Appearance

The old man Santiago had not attractive physical appearance. He had ordinary features of a hard working labourer. He was an old man. However, the old man was judged to be the best fisherman of the locality. He was quite thin and lean. He had deep wrinkles in the back of his neck. There were brown spots on his cheeks due to exposure to the sun. His hands had the deep creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords for a long time. But none of these scars was fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless dessert. Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same colour as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated. His blue eyes showed his undefeated spirit of resolution and optimism. Every limb of the Old Man was old except his eyes. He called himself a strange man. The thing which made him strange was the undaunting spirit of fighting against everything which comes on his way. 170
6. A Strange Old Man

Q:6 Discuss the old man as a strange old man? 2006 Group-11
Or How is he different from other fishermen? (2002-i, II,)
Or Why does the old man not mind the derogatory remarks of the other fishermen?
Or Compare and contrast the old man with other fishermen. 2007II

Ans: Santiago is a strange old man. He is different form other fishermen. The thing which makes him strange is his undaunting spirit of fighting against everything which comes on his way and his being different from other fishermen. When he remains unable to catch a big fish the fishermen and the villagers give him derogatory remarks. They make fun of him by calling him ‘Saloa’. He does not mind it. The attitude of the other fisher men towards the old man is very inhuman and discouraging. No one is ready to accompany the old man except the boy. When old man reaches his shake with the skeleton of the big fish there is none except the boy to express the feelings. He does not mind the derogatory remarks of the other fishermen because he is a man of tolerance and patience. He is determined, resolute, courageous, and patient even in his old age.
Both Santiago and the boy are viewed by the village men as not really men. The old man because he is too old to catch a fish and the boy because of his young age. The community seems to have rejected both of them. To the other fisher men, success means to earn money but this is not the case with the old man. To Santiago, fishing is not only the way of making money. He says “it is a way of life. So he is an idealist while other fishermen believe in materialism. Other old men of the village are with out zeal and zest. But this is not the case with Santiago. He does not believe to give in even in the heavy odds of life. 279
7. The old man poverty and lack of resources
Or
The old man’s life on land
Old man is a born fisherman and is as at home in the sea as any fish. He has spent all his life in voyaging and fishing. However, this amphibian lives on land as well. Normally he comes back in the evening, carries his gear to his shack, sometime all by himself, but mostly assisted by the boy. The old man has not regular source of income. He is dependent on fishing but he has been with out fish for the last eighty four days. He gets satisfied over a cup of coffee. “His life is full of sorrows and sufferings yet he is contented to his life. He lives in an ordinary cottage. He is a poor man. His life is very simple with limited resources. His shack made of “the tough bud-shields of the royal palm” is simply furnished. Besides, a table, and a chair, it has a spring bed covered not with a mattress or foam but with old newspapers. There are a couple of pictures on Biblical themes as well as photograph of his wife”, which remains covered in one corner “under his clean shirt” lest he should feel lonely. He has a fire place on the dirt floor to cook with charcoal.
There is nothing in his house to be cooked. He tries to put off the boy by pretending that he has “a pot of yellow rice,” for his supper, but the boy knows too well that the premised “yellow rice and fish” is a dream. In fact they go through “this fiction everyday”. Such a humble and ordinary person could not have anything remarkable in his person. 274
8. Santiago A Christ Like Figure

Santiago is represented as a Christ like figure. Like Christ Santiago undergoes pain and suffering. For instance, he feels as if the nails had been driven through his lacerated hands. He suffers a kind of crucifixion. Santiago fights and kills many sharks with his harpoon, knife and club but tows only a skeleton of the marlin. He is completely exhausted to his bones, goes to his shack, falls asleep and dreams of other days to resume his unending fights. The action of Santiago depicts his unrivalled courage to fight till his death.
Like Christ, Santiago shows the qualities of humility and compassion. The writer has used Christian symbols throughout the story. Santiago is an embodiment of Christian virtues, like piety, humility and charity. He belongs to the category of good man. He says his prayers or thinks of prayers in his own way. He loves and respects the marlin. His attitude towards various creatures of the sea is marked with kindness. Santiago’s hands have been wounded, and as he lies sleeping face down with his arms out-straight and the palm of his hands up his figure is saintly and Christ-like. This pose and posture reminds us of the crucifixion. This means that the world crucifies every body who struggles. 209