If so, what is the sea standing for?
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Everything around the old man is lined to the natural world. The sea personifies a woman to Santiago with her many moods. The sea birds are Santiago's friends, the sharks his enemies. Santiago muses about turtles, jellyfish...We begin to sense a theme here, that the old man defines himself through the elements of nature. The old man's sense of morality and justice is seen through the lens of the sea. He sees certain animals "born to do" things. Santiago interprets life through this lens.