Throughout time, man will face difficulties he cannot overcome. Although man will attempt to overpower and outsmart forces he cannot control, they will always and forever defeat him, no matter the size of the struggle. For example, as man has grown, he has tried to predict and control the forces of nature. However, as displayed by Santiago, the main character of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, courage, intelligence, and strength, even when combined, cannot defeat a powerful force such as nature. Santiago cannot win at sea at the hands of the marlin and the sharks. The same applies to society and man's own mind and thoughts--he is never able to rise above both when it is essential to his survival, as displayed by Santiago's struggles at sea and in his own town, due to his poverty. Although Santiago fought with an effort that is immeasurable, his opponents--nature, society, and himself--overpower him easily, and attack him without mercy.
By analyzing Santiago's struggles with the marlin and the sharks, and the unloading of his boat and the return to his shack in The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway, one may suggest that they symbolize a losing struggle between man and nature, society, and himself.
Although Santiago put up a valiant effort at sea, nature ends up defeating him. The marlin gives him the toughest fight, as well as the most problems. Santiago fights for three days and nights against the marlin attempting to pull it in. During this battle, nature defeats Santiago through bodily afflictions. During his three day struggle with his future prize, Santiago goes from strong to weak considerably quick. In his first hours of fighting with the marlin, Santiago says to himself "I have no cramps and I feel strong" (Hemingway 46).