the fish came alive, with his death in him, and rose high out of
the water showing all his great length and width and all his power
and his beauty. He seemed to hang in the air above the old man in
the skiff. Then he fell into the water with a crash that sent spray
over the old man and over all of the skiff.
The killing of the marlin, which occurs
on the fourth day of the narrative, marks the climax of the novella.
The end of the marlin’s life is the most vital of moments, as the
fish comes alive “with his death in him” and exhibits to Santiago,
more strongly than ever before, “all his power and his beauty.”
The fish seems to transcend his own death, because it invests him
with a new life. This notion of transcendence is important, for
it resounds within Santiago’s story. Like the fish, the old man
suffers something of a death on his way back to the village. He
is stripped of his quarry and, given his age, will likely never
have the opportunity to land such a magnificent fish again. Nevertheless,
he returns to the village with his spirit and his reputation revitalized.