In The Old Man and the Sea, the ability to withstand physical pain is one of Santiago’s defining characteristics. Suffering is a necessary step in his battle with the fish. It adds intensity to the struggle, and commands a respect from the reader. The mental anguish of losing the fish to the sharks is surprisingly underplayed; this is a type of pain, it seems, that can be controlled by sheer willpower.
Physical pain is the worst kind of pain in The Old Man and the Sea.
Psychological pain is the worst kind of pain in The Old Man and the Sea.