The main character is Santiago, an elderly Cuban fisherman who has not caught a fish in 84 days. Manolin's family has ordered the youngster to leave the old fisherman, though Manolin continues to provide him with food and bait. Santiago serves as a mentor to the youngster, who values the old guy and the life skills he offers. Santiago, convinced that his luck must change, takes his skiff far out into the deep seas of the Gulf Stream, where he quickly snags a massive marlin. He battles with the fish for three days with all his enormous experience and power, appreciating its strength, dignity, and fidelity to its individuality; its destiny is as true as Santiago's as a fisherman.