In Hemingway's book The Old Man And The Sea, after catching the mighty Marlin, and coming to the conclusion that the sharks are probably going to consume the entire Marlin - why didn't Santiago just cut up the fish and stored at least parts of it on the board of his skiff?

I mean, it's stated that the weight of the Marlin was approximately 1,500 pounds and that it was as long as the boat, and possibly even longer, so there was no possibility to store the whole Marlin on the skiff. But, it was most definitely possible to store a few hundred pounds of it on board.

I understand, of course, that Santiago extremely respected the Marlin and felt that it is just "right" that they "sail" home together - side by side, as equals - but after the first shark attack, the Marlin was mutilated and Santiago knew that there's a fair chance that there will be nothing left of it when he'll reach his home port. At this point in time, he still had his knife, and the second shark attack, during which his knife was lost, came a few hours later.

  • Do we know if Santiago had a suitable knife? My memory is fuzzy. Jun 27, 2017 at 10:36
  • Yes, he had a knife - which was lost only later, during the second attack, which came hours after the first one. Even if this knife wasn't the best of knives and the most suitable for the job, which I'm sure it wasn't, a seasoned fisherman as Santiago could definitely slice a few hindered pounds from the Marlin and store them on the skiff.
    – golosovsky
    Jun 27, 2017 at 10:55
  • 1
    Maybe he was hoping he'd get to the shore quick, and cutting the fish would make it spoil faster. Not sure if Santiago was fully sane after all that time alone in the sea. Jun 27, 2017 at 10:59
  • See literature.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/91/…
    – user111
    Jun 27, 2017 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


Santiago (the old man) considered the marlin as his brother, and not his prey, He didn't really want to kill him at the really beginning, but he knew that he had to do it because if he can't fish anything then he'll starve. Of course he cannot rely on the small boy always! Also, Santiago was thinking of selling the fish to their town's market to make some more money. He was certainly getting a tired at that time, because he had been sailing for 3 days without proper sleep. He wouldn't have bothered to do anything but to tie the fish to the side of the boat.

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