“Fish,” he said, “I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.”

As the sun rises on Santiago’s second day at sea, he speaks aloud to let the fish know his intentions. Readers may find it odd that Santiago wants to kill a fish that he claims to love and respect. However, his respect comes from the fact that he has never come across a fish so strong or clever, and he values his self-respect as a fisherman more than he values the life of the fish.

How many people will he feed, he thought. But are they worthy to eat him? No, of course not. There is no one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behavior and his great dignity.

On his second night at sea, Santiago begins to feel sorry for the marlin who must have been hungry, but he does not let that pity get in the way of his desire to kill the marlin. He then thinks how many meals can be made from the marlin and feels the noble creature deserves a better end than to be eaten by his neighbors. Even though Santiago seems to feel great affection for his neighbors and fellow fisherman, his respect for the marlin transcends his daily life, and he does not want the fish’s meat to go to anyone who does not deserve such a meal.