No, the sea was not the old man`s only friend, as the title of the book may imply.There was a lad, and there were different kinds of fish too. But a nagging problem was up the old man`s spine.
The old man led a very lonely life. There is nothing in the book that shows he had a wife, or children, ecxept for the lad who was his business companion. He lived in what I shall call a small cabin. His life was a stark symbol of one who lived for himself alone. We cannot successfully supply information about his past way of life; if he had relatives far or near where he lived.
But the plight of the old man was a bit serious.He failed to catch fish in those days.It was as if those fish knew what was up and made a determined retreat far into the deep, or they had almost gone extinct. Some young fishermen were making small catches now and then, so the old man put up a plan.
The old man told his little companion to go home to his parents. His intention was to go deeperinto the sea. The sea was a familiar friend, so why fret? For several days he was gone, away from civilization.The old man, lonely at home,l onely at sea. Still, he made no catch and was about to give up when suddenly... suddenly he felt a jerk on his hook! Oh, a fish ? Maybe. If it were a fish, it could pass for a monster fish, because the old could not pull his catch aboard. He pulled, and the monster pulled him to the opposite direction. What followed was a portrayal of man`s painful struggle and the futility of the human life.
The monster was more powerful than the fisherman. How he longed to have one or two men with him! He worked hard on his own till he killed the fish with his harpoon and managed to tie it to his boat. Time to return home. But the reurn trip was not that easy. It was a slow one, the sort which could take him a couple of days to make. The plunder was too massive for the boat and the old man was far into the sea.
Other monster fish smelled or tasted blood. They came for the dead fish. The old man fought agaist the predators, as you would if you had been in the old man`s shoes. Those huge fish did not relent and the old man intensified his effort. At a point, the predators stopped their attack as the old man got nearer shore.
It was dawn when the fisherman anchored the boat. He was totally exhausted and he fell asleep when he got into his cabin. When it was daylight, news flashed hither and thither. The old man had arrived alive from the deep sea! He made a wonderful catch, such that no one, not even the young and agile fishermen made, up to that time.
People came to see for themselves. It was the largest fish skeleton anybody ever saw in that town. The old man had been brave, but was his loss a total one ? After he recovered, did he go back to sea ? The author left the rest of the story to burn inside our imagination.