The Old Man and the Sea
How we cite our quotes:
The wind is our friend, anyway, he thought. Then he added, sometimes. And the great sea with our friends and our enemies. And bed, he thought. Bed is my friend. Just bed, he thought. Bed will be a great thing. It is easy when you are beaten, he thought. I never knew how easy it was. And what beat you, he thought.
"Nothing," he said aloud. "I went out too far." (4.171, 4.172)
The old man seems to say that he was beaten by himself, by his own poor judgment, rather than any other force.
"They beat me, Manolin," he said. "They truly beat me."
"He didn’t beat you. Not the fish."
"No. Truly. It was afterwards." (5.22-5.24)
The old man leaves us wondering who are the "they" that beat him – the sharks, or something more?
"I know how to care for them. In the night I spat something strange and felt something in my chest was broken." (5.44)
The old man is physically defeated by the end of the story, but his spirit is not broken, as he still dreams of the lions.