| Quote #25
When he thought that he knew that he was not being clear-headed and he thought he should chew some more of the dolphin. But I can’t, he told himself. It is better to be light-headed than to lose your strength from nausea. And I know I cannot keep it if I eat it since my face was in it. I will keep it for an emergency until it goes bad. But it is too late to try for strength now through nourishment. You’re stupid, he told himself. Eat the other flying fish. (4.14)
The old man believes holding onto his strength is more important than clear thinking; this is a definitive answer to the question of strength vs. skill.
| Quote #26
He could not see by the slant of the line that the fish was circling. It was too early for that. He just felt a faint slackening of the pressure of the line and he commenced to pull on it gently with his right hand. It tightened, as always, but just when he reached the point where it would break, line began to come in. He slipped his shoulders and head from under the line and began to pull in line steadily and gently. He used both of his hands in a swinging motion and tried to do the pulling as much as he could with his body and his legs. His old legs and shoulders pivoted with the swinging of the pulling. (4.18)
Santiago and his body are repeatedly called "old," reminding us of the impressive nature of his strength
| Quote #27
But when he put all of his effort on, starting it well out before the fish came alongside and pulling with all his strength, the fish pulled part way over and then righted himself and swam away. (4.52)
When the old man faces the fish with only his strength, he loses.