by: Qadeer Ahmad
There are many different types of characters in a story- some are active in the plot while others are not. One character that is introduced at the start of the story is Manolin. Manolin is the young boy pupil of Santiago who has been learning the ‘Tricks’ of fishing from him. He is an important character of this novel, though he does not play an active part in the adventure of the old man. Manolin symbolizes Santiago’s youthful strength, serves as a source of comfort, care and happiness for the old man, and provides inspiration and hope to Santiago-an old, weak fisherman.
Santiago was an old man who did not have much strength left- “everything about him was old ...” (pg. 10). Although his body had weakened, his courage to continue fishing had not vanished. On his adventure, Santiago is continuously faced with many challenges that test his strength and courage. Whenever he feels defeated and exhausted, he remembers the boy and says “I wish the boy was here”. More often than he prays to God for help, the old man recalls memories of Manolin to give him strength in his time of need. The boy symbolizes the old man’s youthful strength. He is a constant reminder of youth age, courage and bravery for the old man. This is also seen when the fish is pulling away the boat and Santiago is feeling very weak, he states, “Now I will pay attention to my work and then I must eat the tuna so that I will not have a failure of strength. I wish the boy were here...” (pg. 56). Thinking about Manolin gives strength to Santiago as he becomes stronger in achieving his goal after having thought about the boy. In the story, the old man admits “the boy keeps me alive” as he provides him with the strength to stay alive.
Another important role that Manolin plays in the novel is that of providing comfort, care and being a source of happiness in Santiago’s life. The old man does not have anyone to take care of him and provide him with the...