Santiago is an interesting character to dissect. He is an independent fisherman, completely able on his own to fight off sharks, survive on hardly any food, and spend over three days out at sea by himself. Yet he is lonely, very lonely. Normally independent people are fine on their own. Santiago has contradicting characteristics, which is what makes him so interesting.
Numerous times throughout Santiago’s fishing adventure he says that he wishes the boy was there with him. He was managing fine on his own, but he could appreciate the benefits of having the boy around. He also enjoyed the boys company and found it a lot better than talking to just himself. Santiago begins giving personification to almost everything he comes in contact with. He definitely began to look at the big fish as a person, or even perhaps as himself. Then he referred to his left hand as though it was its own being. His boat became a “her”. To Santiago all of the things around him became someone to him during his adventure.
Santiago found comfort in talking to himself, sometimes arguing with himself, while out at sea. Although he was borderline-exhausted and starving he managed remain aware of his mentality. Although he found comfort in talking out loud (perhaps hearing his own voice made him not feel as lonely) he did not let his mind get too unclear. He seemed to engage in a moral battle with himself on the return journey. He began to feel awful about killing the fish he had grown so fond of. He actually said that he loved the fish. Even though he claimed he is not a religious man, he became very concerned with whether or not it was a sin when he killed the fish. Santiago is definitely a man of high moral. He would not even look at the fish after it had been mutilated by the many different shark attacks. It was as though he had held the fish at such a high regard and had so much respect for the fish that he felt as though he had done the mutilating to him. After the sharks had attacked the fish, it seemed pointless to Santiago that he had even killed the fish. Pointless not in the sense that he wouldn’t make any money, pointless that he had killed such a gorgeous sea creature just for it to be mutilated by sharks. Santiago apologized many times to the dead fish. He truly cared about the consequences of his actions, so unselfishly that he becomes quite admirable.
Santiago not only had high moral and respect for living and dead creatures, he also personified many of them. The personification of these beings demonstrates many of Santiago’s character traits. It shows that he has respect for all forms of life, that he has remorse and values morality, that he gets lonely, and also that he is able to entertain himself independently. When he arrived safely back to his shack, he asked the boy if anyone had searched for him. That proves that he does care about people valuing his existence. Perhaps this is why he makes it so important to value the existence of others.