The theme of Old Man and the Sea is never giving up will get you through life. This is shown through the quote“He was stiff and sore now and his wounds and all of the strained parts of his body hurt with the cold of the night. I hope I do not have to fight again, he thought. I hope so much I do not have to fight again.” (33 pdf) Even when santiago was beaten and broken, and worn down with barely any strength left. He still fought, and didn’t give up, and in the end after all the fighting, and all the persistence he caught the largest and best fish.
In the begining Santiago was patient, as the book says “He had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.” (1 pdf) Santiago is patient because even though he had gone eighty-four days without taking a fish, he continued fishing. Through the middle of the book Santiago is shown as more determined, as the book says“Now everything is cleared away that might make trouble and I have a big reserve of line; all that a man can ask. ‘Fish,’ he said softly, aloud, ‘I’ll stay with you until I am dead.’” (14 pdf) This shows that Santiago is determined because he is so set on catching the Marlin, he will continue till he lay dead.
Near the end of the book santiago is Exhausted, for in the book it says “He had sailed for two hours, resting in the stern and sometimes chewing a bit of the meat from the marlin, trying to rest and to be strong, when he saw the first of the two sharks.” (30 pdf) Santiago is exaughsted after his fight with the marlin because he has to continuely rest in order to keep going
In the book, the sharks symbolize the general brutality of nature. For as said in the book “It was these sharks that would cut the turtles’ legs and flippers off when the turtles were asleep on the surface, and they would hit a man in the water, if they were hungry, even if the man had no smell of fish blood nor of fish slime on him.” (30 pdf) This accurately describes the relentless brutality of both the sharks and nature as a whole, because it shows that the sharks will cut off the legs and flippers of the turtles as they are asleep. This can symbolize that no matter how vulnerable or weak you already are, Nature will still strike and destroy. This point is also supported by the next half of the quote when the sharks will attack a man with no smell of fish blood nor fish slime, as long as they are hungry. In relation to nature, this means that as long as there is some benefit to nature. It will do whatever it wants with no concern of what gets hurt in the process.
The lions symbolize Santiago’s lost youth. “He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy. He never dreamed about the boy.” (6 pdf) Several times in the book Santiago dreams of lions on the beaches of Africa, he saw these Lions when he was a boy on a ship. The lions symbolize Santiago's lost youth. This is because now that Santiago is no longer young, and has lost his friends, family, and strength, he sees the lions only in his dreams.
The marlin represent the perfect opponent, as said in the story “...he was such a calm, strong fish and he seemed so fearless and so confident.” (23 pdf) as well as “Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who.” (26 pdf) The marlin, such a huge and powerful adversary to the old man (Santiago) that he represents the absolute perfect opponent. Such a powerful one in fact, that Santiago, after all his years of fishing has never seen one near it. So strong, beautiful, calm, and noble that Santiago is willing to lay down his life at the chance of catching it.