Everyone has struggles that they have to face. Life is full of it and they are inevitable. Overcoming these struggles do nothing but make us stronger. In the Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, the main character Santiago goes through several disparaging obstacles that include his old age, the unsympathetic sharks that sabotaged all his hard works, and the huge marlin. He conquered them all with determination and strength.
The first and foremost conflict that he faced was his age. As people grow older, they get physically weaker and can’t do things that they used to when they are younger, they also develop conditions such as hunched back and cramps, and finally, fatigue. Old people get worn out really easily because their body isn’t as fit and healthy as they used to be. Santiago is about eighty years old so fighting a marlin isn't exactly easy to do. His left hand cramps up often (and he calls it a curse) so he has to rely on is good hand to keep a grip on the marlin. Santiago hasn’t slept in three days so he is exhausted. He may not want to admit it but he knows that he is. “You’re tired old man…You’re tired inside.” (112).
Another obstacle that he faces is the marlin itself. The marlin is so enormous that when it came out of the water, it came out "unending and water poured from his sides...his sword was as long as a baseball bat and tapered like a rapier...[and had] a great scythe-blade tail." (104). the marlin could easily dive and pull Santiago under or diver and kill him. Fortunately, it did neither of the things and allowed itself to be caught. Even though he wanted to kill the marlin, he was resentful when he did because he didn’t think of it as just another fish in the sea, but his own brother.
What killed Santiago the most on the inside were the spiteful sharks that sabotaged all his hard work. They wounded his pride because the marlin was the first fish nearly a thousand pounds that he had caught all by himself and he was proud of it. "Eat that, galanos. And make a dream you've killed a man. “(119). He worked hard fighting for it and now it was destroyed to the point that it was barely even recognizable. When the skeleton was just lying around, waiting go return back to the ocean, people passed by it and though that it was just a mere shark, not a noble majestic being that once swam the great seas. “‘What’s that?' she asked a waiter and pointed to the long backbone of the great fish that was now just garbage waiting to go out with the tide...'I didn’t know sharks had such handsome, beautifully formed tails." (127). Santiago was disgusted by what the sharks left behind and wished that he had never went out that far into the sea and caught the marlin. Atleast the marlin would still have its dignity. The sharks, in a way, are symbolic of the people who try to bring someone else down, just so that they would feel better about themselves. The sharks killed Santiago’s pride just so that they could get a little something to fill their belly.
Conflicts and struggles must be overcome with fierceness and strength, just like Santiago when he was fighting the galanos. "I’ll fight them...I’ll fight them till I die." (115). Even when you fail to do so and everything seems to be falling apart, be optimistic and think of bright side, because with everything that turns sour, there's always a hidden goodness. You just don't always know what it is. When the sharks gorged on the marlin, he was devastated and felt hopeless, and even though he proabaly didn't want to do anything but grieve about his lost, he still tries to be positive. "Think about something cheerful old man...every minute now you are closer to home. You are lighter for the loss of forty pounds." (104).