Is the old man defeated? This is a persistent question by the end of the story. The Old Man and the Sea asks its readers to define defeat, to struggle with what it really means to be beaten. Interestingly, Santiago draws a distinction between being destroyed and being defeated. Although the text does not explain, it seems that "destruction" carries a physical connotation (the old man identifies "something broken" in his chest), but defeat implies the breaking of one’s spirit, a psychological or spiritual act.
The old man is defeated at the end of the story.
The old man is not defeated at the end of the story.