.. s plans were ruined and we all know how discouraging is.
As far as Hemingway and Santiago are concerned, the old man is not fortunate anymore. Since the beginning of the book we are told that the old man is ” salao, which is the worst form of unlucky” (page 9). And again, at the end : ” I am not lucky. I am not lucky anymore.” (page 125). If you are lucky it is because you have good luck and you happen to be fortunate, but this didn’t happen with Santiago.
He knew it. And we are not only told this at the beginning of the book but reaffirmed at the end. In regard to his unluckiness we can also remind us of the 84 days that Santiago had spent trying to catch a fish and which didn’t succeed. The fishermen of his community knew his situation and made fun of him, but in a ‘tender’ way, because they knew what it was like, to not catch anything in a long time. Another important aspect is that Santiago ends up weaponless and helpless. We are given a description of the useless arms he had ( his oars and a short club) to fight the sharks and tells us how he performed through this battle.
He tries to kill them but realises that he has no chance, that he is ” too old to club sharks to death.” They are too many for him(pages 112-114). Some may argue about what Santiago says to himself: ” Fight them. I’ll fight them until I die.”(page 115). But he doesn’t die in his ‘war’ and says this only to encourage himself. In spite of his strength, perseverance and struggle he stops fighting.
He doesn’t even realise how many come at the end and eat the whole fish. Later Santiago meditates: “Now it is over. They will probably hit me again. But what can a man do against them in the dark without a weapon? .. I hope that I do not have to fight again ..
I hope so much I do not have to fight again.”(page 117) With this quote we can see that Santiago is not only weaponless but also tired, tired physically and mentally. If Santiago still had had psychological strength he would have kept on going and not hope that the sharks wouldn’t come again. But he hasn’t any kind of support or strength left in him. “But by midnight he fought and this time he knew the fight was useless. They came in a pack and he could only see the lines in the water that their fins made .. He clubbed desperately at what he could only feel and hear and he felt something seize the club and it was gone.” (page 118).
Again we can see here that Santiago fought, even though he was very tired, but did it knowing it was useless. He did what he could but failed. He was an old man and was weak, due to the fact that he hadn’t had anything to eat well in three days. He was desperate to keep his fish and struggled to prevent his lost.
A shark grabbed his only weapon and Santiago was left with nothing to defend his treasure. They were too many, he was tired, he was old, it was dark, he had no powerful weapons, he was alone, he couldn’t manage to defend his price: he lost. The sharks ate his fish and he couldn’t do more to avoid it. Last, but not least, the most obvious evidence or argument of Santiago being defeated: Santiago doesn’t have the fish, he lost his fish. As he affirms later on : ” That was the last shark of the pack that came.
There was nothing more for them to eat.”(pages 118-119). Even the sharks knew that there was no more fish, they ate it all. Santiago in spite of his efforts lost his battle. When the sharks ate all of the fish it meant that the battle was over and there was nothing left to fight for. “He saw the white naked line of his backbone and the dark mass of the head with the projecting bill and all the nakedness between.” (page 121). Here it is when Santiago reaches the Havana, his beach, and finally realises, or we may say, confirms his suspicion: there is no fish left.
He was left with the backbone but no meat to sell. He didn’t care what would happen with the bones, as mentioned earlier, and he is not even satisfied with what he brought. He lost the fish and lost his fight/struggle. The whole point of his trip was to catch a fish so that he could sell it. If he could sell it he would have had money to survive for the next winter and so not starve to death.
Fishing was his job and way of having money. Santiago lost the fish and so couldn’t accomplish his plans, his goal of passing through the upcoming necessities. It was not a spiritual goal it was Santiago being able to eat, to fulfil basic needs. With all these evidence presented and my arguments I can state positively that Santiago was a man defeated. He loses too much and wins too little.
He couldn’t accomplish his goal and all the efforts and strength he had put into were ‘thrown overboard’. Santiago doesn’t enjoy his “spiritual success” and constantly accepts that he was beaten. If he had been a triumphant man he would have been glad with what he ended up with; and wouldn’t be that sad. Manolin, at the end, comforts him and tells him that he will stay with him and help him. Although Manolin offers his aid the old man knew what a great income the fish was and that he still had to keep on fighting with his cruel life.
All the plans he had made with the fish and all the happiness that he had built were destroyed. The old man, sadly, was defeated by time and nature itself. May be that’s why the book has that name; it wasn’t an specific battle with the fish but with mother nature or just creation itself. Anyway, he lost. He ended as a defeated man and all of his efforts were in vain.