The book tells the story of an old Cuban fisherman named Santiago and his three-day battle with a giant marlin. Santiago is a very experienced fisherman, but he has not caught a fish in 84 days. His young apprentice, Manolin, has been forced by his parents to stop fishing with Santiago and to fish with more successful fishermen.
Santiago goes out to sea alone and hooks a giant marlin. The fish pulls Santiago’s boat for two days and nights before Santiago is finally able to kill it. He then has to struggle to get the fish back to shore. When he finally arrives back at the village, a crowd has gathered to see the giant fish.