What is the significance of Santiago dreaming about the lions?

There are many interpretations of the symbolic nature of the lions. One is that they offer glimpses of the wildness of nature, in an environment just as menacing as the open sea. Yet even though lions are predators thought to be vicious, Santiago imagines them playing rather than hunting, suggesting a certain harmony inherent in nature that opposes the straightforward hunter versus prey dichotomy. This underscores the idea that Santiago and the marlin are not merely adversaries, but something resembling partners. That Manolin watches over Santiago as he dreams of the lions implies the lions are suggestive of youth, underlying the cyclical nature of life and the fact that Santiago is nearing the end of his life.

How does Santiago lose the marlin?

On the fourth day, Santiago is still struggling, unable to reel in the marlin. When the marlin begins to circle the boat, still hooked, Santiago stabs it with a harpoon in a fit of near delirium, killing it. Because the marlin is too big to fit in the boat, he fastens it to the side. The scent of its blood draws the attention of a mako shark. The shark lashes at the marlin, and although Santiago manages to kill the shark with his harpoon, fresh blood from the attack brings more sharks. Several arrive to scavenge the remains; Santiago fights them valiantly but is unable to prevent them from eating what remains of the marlin, so that when he arrives home, only the skeleton remains.

What does Manolin represent to Santiago?

Though Santiago has no children of his own, the devoted Manolin serves as something of a son for the old man and a nod to the next generation, underlying the story’s message concerning the cyclical nature of life. Santiago’s journey to conquer the marlin is the grand culmination of his lifelong career as a fisherman. Manolin, the dutiful apprentice, is primed to take the baton, symbolizing the act of shepherding in the next generation.

How does Santiago embody a hero?

Santiago demonstrates a remarkable resolve. Not only does he refuse to give up, despite his lack of success for so many days, but he maintains a thoughtful philosophy regarding his relationship with success, living, dying, and hunting. His devotion to the marlin is not out of ego, as Santiago is aware of his own pride, but rather respect and honor for the great fish. Even as the sharks destroy everything he has fought and bled for, Santiago proceeds nobly, thinking of the trials his own hero Joe DiMaggio endured and attempting to live up to standard set by the great ballplayer.

How does Santiago serve as a Christ figure?

Throughout the novella, a number of allusions to Christ’s crucifixion appear, speaking to the suffering, rebirth, healing, and redemption of Santiago’s journey. When the shovel-nosed sharks arrive to attack the Marlin, Santiago makes a noise “such as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood.” When he returns to shore, Santiago takes down the mast and carries it up the hill to his shack, much like how Christ was ordered to carry the cross to his own crucifixion. More broadly, however, Santiago gladly accepts his own death as a likely outcome from his time at sea, speaking to a peace of mind about his life and purpose. When he returns, the presence of Manolin suggests there is something regenerative about passing the baton from one generation to the next, and that Santiago lives on in his young apprentice just as Christ had risen.