His character in the novel
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Santiago is the protagonist of the novella. He is an old fisherman in Cuba who, at the beginning of the book, has not caught anything for eighty-four days. The novella follows Santiago's quest for the great catch that will save his career. Santiago endures a great struggle with a uncommonly large and noble marlin only to lose the fish to rapacious sharks on his way back to land. Despite this loss, Santiago ends the novel with his spirit undefeated. Depending on your reading of the novel, Santiago represents Hemingway himself, searching for his next great book; an Everyman, heroic in the face of human tragedy; or the Oedipal male unconscious trying to slay his father, the marlin, in order to sexually possess his mother, the sea.