Manolin is present only in the beginning and at the end of The Old Man and the Sea, but his presence is important because Manolin’s devotion to Santiago highlights Santiago’s value as a person and as a fisherman. Manolin demonstrates his love for Santiago openly. He makes sure that the old man has food, blankets, and can rest without being bothered. Despite Hemingway’s insistence that his characters were a real old man and a real boy, Manolin’s purity and singleness of purpose elevate him to the level of a symbolic character. Manolin’s actions are not tainted by the confusion, ambivalence, or willfulness that typify adolescence. Instead, he is a companion who feels nothing but love and devotion.
Hemingway does hint at the boy’s resentment for his father, whose wishes Manolin obeys by abandoning the old man after forty days without catching a fish. This fact helps to establish the boy as a real human being—a person with conflicted loyalties who faces difficult decisions. By the end of the book, however, the boy abandons his duty to his father, swearing that he will sail with the old man regardless of the consequences. He stands, in the novella’s final pages, as a symbol of uncompromised love and fidelity. As the old man’s apprentice, he also represents the life that will follow from death. His dedication to learning from the old man ensures that Santiago will live on.
I believe the Warbler which lands on Santiago's skiff before flying off to meet the Hawks could be considered a minor character. I believe it serves as a symbol or something of the small comforts of life which are fine and enjoyable, but often leave us without warning or reason.
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In reply to The Gunner.
I think you are right, but I think you can also look at the warbler as almost a metaphor for Santiago.When the warbler lands on his line he is very tired and has just completed a long and hard journey and is resting for a bit before going off to meet the predatory hawks. This is much like Santiago's state just after he has caught the Marlin. He is very tired and worn yet has precious little time to rest before he must go and face the predatory sharks.
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I believe that the Warbler is a symbol Hemingway put in the book to represent his mother. In Hemingway's life he kind of pushed his mother away and wouldn't really focus at all on her later in his life. This is because he couldn't stand her criticizing his writing and didn't want her to be around it. Since Santiago represents Hemingway and fishing represents writing in the book I think the Warbler symbolizes Hemingway's mother.
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