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Other points: Boating terms and Baseball

As a poor fisherman, Santiago has few tools on board his small boat, but he makes the most of what he has. Below, you'll see a display of the various knots that fishermen use, from the Key West Lighthouse museum, followed by some visuals of the various parts of the boat and tools that are referred to in the book. 

“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is” (110).


A Spear-like tool used for fishing, whaling, and other marine hunting, primarily used for catching strong, heavy, powerful game. In the book, Santiago loses the harpoon while fending off sharks. This can symbolize how those without faith/devotion/a sense of a drive are left defenseless and feel hopeless. Various artists have depicted this powerful story. 


Skiff: Shallow flat bottom boat with a sharp bow and square stern


Thwarts are struts placed crosswise in a boat to allow the rower and other persons in it to sit.


Gaff: A handled hook for holding and lifting heavy fish, mostly used to lift large catches out of the water after reeling them in.



Thole pins: A wooden peg set in the gunwales of a boat to hold oars


Baseball (Beisbol): The Cuban fisherman's love of baseball is an interesting theme in the novel, and one that deserves more attention. 

The Great Joe DiMaggio: Joe DiMaggio was an American baseball player who played for the Yankees for thirteen years. DiMaggio is referenced several times in “Old Man and the Sea” by Santiago, who reveres him in a way that is almost worshipful, drawing strength and inspiration from his baseball performance. Considered to be among the best baseball players of all time, DiMaggio’s most famous achievement was a 56-game hitting streak from May to July 1941. This record still stands. 

Bone Spurs


Also known as osteophytes, bone spurs are small projections at the edge of a bone, often at the joints as a result of joint damage. Joe DiMaggio’s heel spur during his 1949 season is a point of inspiration for Santiago, who admires DiMaggio’s ability to continue playing with its pain in his foot. While bone spurs often come without symptoms, heel spurs are known to be painful, and Santiago compares the pain of his hands and back with his idol’s foot pain (68, 97). 

National Baseball Library.

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