That was a nice read. Thank you :D
I won't attempt to edit it as I've seen that others have done that already; but what I'd like to do is offer some information regarding the use of symbolism: baseball (our modern day heros), lions (our pride & courage), and the sea (Nature); Furthermore, I too haven't read the Old Man in the Sea for ages, and I have never read cliff notes or such either, but I can tell you my interpretation of the novella in one sentence: There's only one way for Mankind to overcome Nature: through humility, and never through pride.
Joe DiMaggio: Santiago's idol. A New York Yankee (whose father was a fisherman) who always performed his best, despite injuries and obstacles.
lions: The great creatures on the beaches of Africa about which Santiago dreams. Santiago loves great and majestic animals and considers them as his peers.
Unlike other fishermen, who see the ocean merely in terms of economic gain, Santiago looks on the sea and its inhabitants with love and respect. Notably, he prefers to call the sea "la mar," its feminine form, rather than the harsher, masculine "el mar."
Hopefully, nobody who has ever read The Old Man and the Sea could possibly fail to understand that, for most people, doing a job well, even, or especially, a physically taxing job, provides an abiding sense of gratification and self worth.
Christian symbolism, especially images that refer to the crucifixion of Christ, is present throughout The Old Man and the Sea. During the old man's battle with the marlin, his palms are cut by his fishing cable. Given Santiago's suffering and willingness to sacrifice his life, the wounds are suggestive of Christ's stigmata, and Hemingway goes on to portray the old man as a Christ-like martyr. As soon as the sharks arrive, Santiago makes a noise one would make "feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood." And the old man's struggle up the hill to his village with his mast across his shoulders is evocative of Christ's march toward Calgary. Even the position in which Santiago collapses on his bed—he lies face down with his arms out straight and the palms of his hands up—brings to mind the image of Christ on the cross. Hemingway employs these images in order to link Santiago to Christ, who exemplified transcendence by turning loss into gain, defeat into triumph, and even death into life.
In this quote Santiago is seen defending his accomplishment with great courage and ferocity. Santiago experienced a personal triumph to catch the great fish, and takes great pride in his prize marlin. This excerpt is allegorical because man is faced daily with the option to fight back, and to defend what he thinks is rightfully his. The old man had the option to fight back, as does man in life. This excerpt also comment on the duality of man, and shows how relentless man can be to maintain his accomplished goal. Even if defending that goal could mean death, man has the ability to struggle to protect his achievement. Santiago’s battle at sea concludes with the sharks, and the old man proves himself a champion of struggle and hardship.
... the dream of lions on the coast of Africa draws attention to Santiago's personal history as a Spaniard from the Canary Islands. Santiago is the Spanish name for James, the patron saint of Spain. Like Santiago, St. James was a fisherman before he heeded Christ's call to be a fisher of men, and it was he who first brought Christianity to Spain. This parallel further casts a religious air around Santiago and his ensuing struggle. And as St. James was the special patron saint of the Spanish conquistadors who fought to bring their values to the New World, there is a suggestion that Santiago is bringing his heroic values to the New World as well.
Hemingway says of Santiago, "He was too simple to wonder when he had attained humility. But he knew he had attained it and he knew it was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride"
Wow! Wow! That is really something. Thanks, Cas! :D