The old man had taught the boy to fish and the boy loved him.
Here, the narrator introduces the relationship between Manolin and Santiago. The simple explanation of their relationship conveys just how deeply fishing has bonded the two friends. The boy, Manolin, loves Santiago in spite of his latest streak of unlucky days, and he would still be fishing with him if not for his parents’ orders.
He was very fond of flying fish as they were his principal friends on the ocean.
The narrator relates how Santiago feels about flying fish. As his favorite type of fish to catch and eat, Santiago regards them as creatures with which he has a mutual bond such as friends have. The line between friends and enemies blurs throughout the novel, especially when considering the dependence Santiago has on nature.
Then his head started to become a little unclear and he thought, is he bringing me in or am I bringing him in? If I were towing him behind there would be no question. Nor if the fish were in the skiff, with all dignity gone, there would be no question either. But they were sailing together lashed side by side and the old man thought, let him bring me in if it pleases him. I am only better than him through trickery and he meant me no harm.
After Santiago catches the marlin and ties him to the skiff, he thinks of how he and the marlin seem to be partners. He thinks that if the marlin were behind the skiff, Santiago would clearly be in charge, as the marlin was when towing Santiago and the skiff. Even though the marlin is dead, Santiago still wants the fish to be pleased, and he views the marlin as a friend or equal in spite of their long and drawn-out fight.