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Santiago cuts up the dolphin he has caught to prevent spoiling, and eats some of it before contriving a way to sleep. Santiago wraps the line around him and leans against the bow to anchor himself, leaving his left hand on the rope to wake him if the marlin lurches.
Soon, the old man is asleep. He dreams of a school of porpoises, much like the two porpoises who arrived to comfort him in his loneliness. He also dreams of his village house, and that his right arm is asleep; though in reality, this is the part of him that is still awake, waiting to be tugged by the line. Finally he dreams of the lions of his youth on the African beach and feels happy.