Ernest Hemingway and Henry ("Mike") Strater with the remaining 500 lbs of an estimated 1000 lb marlin that was half-eaten by sharks before it could be landed in the Bahamas in 1935. See Pilar for details of this episode.
He refuses to accept defeat. Finally, almost passing out from exhaustion, he gathers enough strength to harpoon the fish and reel it in to the side of the boat.
Alone, in a vast ocean without food, Santiago engages in an intense and heroic battle of will. The challenge had only begun. As he attempts to return to land with his catch – which he sorely needed - sharks follow the trail of blood and destroy his hard-fought prize. Determinedly, the old man refuses to concede to the ravenous sharks, Hell-bent on destroying his victory. Narrated by an anonymous narrator, the story is frequently interspersed with details about Santiago's inner thoughts and dreams. This lone man’s saga is fraught with symbolism about life,death, and the challenges people must endure in life. The over-riding theme proposes honor as an existential challenge against defeat and death. Pride is the driving force of greatness and determination.