The Old Man and the Sea
How we cite our quotes:
Besides, he thought, everything kills everything else in some way. Fishing kills me exactly as it keeps me alive. The boy keeps me alive, he thought. I must not deceive myself too much. (4.108)
I cannot be too far out now, he thought. I hope no one has been too worried. There is only the boy to worry, of course. But I am sure he would have confidence. Many of the older fishermen will worry. Many others too, he thought. I live in a good town. (4.146)
One of the old man’s key characteristics is his ability to humbly recognize that others are helping him. He carries no false perceptions in terms of his own abilities, and knows his dependence on others.
He could not talk to the fish anymore because the fish had been ruined too badly. Then something came into his head.
"Half fish," he said. "Fish that you were. I am sorry that I went too far out. I ruined us both. But we have killed many sharks, you and I, and ruined many others. How many did you ever kill, old fish? You do not have that spear on your head for nothing." (4.147, 4.148)
The old man’s guilt is ultimately not at killing the fish, but at having violated what he sees to be fundamental code of fishing by "going out too far." The phrase, of course, has greater meaning than the literal distance out to sea. The old man may have gone too far in time, as well, fishing past his physical capabilities.
He liked to think of the fish and what he could do to a shark if he were swimming free. I should have chopped the bill off to fight them with, he thought. But there was no hatchet and then there was no knife.
But if I had, and could have lashed it to an oar butt, what a weapon. Then we might have fought them together. (4.149, 4.150)
The old man finds kinship with the marlin against a common enemy.