How is he better then then the fishermen
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For lack of a better phrase, Santiago is "old school". In this sense we can call him "better". He does not have the new motorboats and buoys or radios that the younger fishermen have. Santiago also fishes out of passion for the sea. He sees the sea as the personification of a woman rather than a masculine competitor. Santiago, "always thought of her as feminine and as something that gave or withheld great favors, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them...." Santiago seemed to know, almost by instinct, where to fish and what to expect. Although old and stiff, it is his marriage to the sea that keeps him coming back. Does this make him a superior fisherman? In his old age he does not catch what he used to. Even the boy's parents think Santiago is long past his prime. What Santiago has is the myth and lure of the sea in his old bones. Unlike the younger fisheman who fish to live, Santiago lives to fish. In this sense he is superior.