In Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago is confronted by a series of sharks, which come in a specific order. This order is significant in a few ways. One significance in the order in which the sharks come is that it shows us how nature is organized and arranged. In this book, Hemingway seems to view nature as having a specific arrangement and believes that things in nature work in a specific way. The sequence of the sharks show Hemingway's ideas about nature. Santiago first encounters the Mako shark, which is described as "beautiful and noble and knows no fear of anything," and "a fish built to feed on all the fishes in the sea." After the Mako manages to bite off a little bit of the marlin, he is struck and killed by Santiago. Next, the old man encounters the shovel-nosed sharks. They are "hateful sharks, bad smelling, scavengers as well as killers."
After them come the sharks that are portrayed as even more repulsive. This shows that in nature, there exists a certain order and that the worthy and noble creatures are superior to the "mere moving appetites" of nature.
Another detail that the sequence of the sharks points out is the greatness of the marlin that Santiago caught. The marlin is powerful and beautiful. The first shark that comes to feed on it is noble and intelligent and worthy to feed on such a great fish as the marlin. However, the shovel-nosed sharks which are hateful and killers, are only worthy to feed on the marlin after it has been ruined and disfigured. This comes to show how magnificent the marlin was while intact, that only the noblest shark was worthy enough to feed on it.
Santiago's story implies an interesting relationship...