A man can be destroyed but not defeated
In the Old man and the sea, Santiago says, A man can be destroyed but not defeated. (Page 93) The true statement can be referred to throughout the novel. Santiago is in the end physically destroyed, but mentally he is not defeated. Santiagos courage and pride pushes him forward throughout the novel, even when it looks like hope is lost, but is never defeated.
Destruction means to completely ruin or spoil. Santiago experienced this destruction. It started with 84 days of not catching anything. He was being crushed but his spirit and pride prevented defeat. During the fight with the marlin, he physically was being destroyed. He had a choice to spare his life and let the fish go but he knew he had to overcome his destruction so he kept at it and caught the fish. And finally, the fight with the sharks was his hardest battle. First of all, it damaged him mentally. He had become fond of the Marlin he killed and said many times how he admired it. And second, he had to fight off the scavengers after three days at sea with little energy. His food only consisted of raw fish so he couldnt have been in the perfect position to defend the giant marlin, which he used up every ounce of strength to kill.
Defeat means to have been beaten in a battle or a contest. Santiago is never defeated in the novel. Even when he says at the end when Santiago says, they beat me Manolin, they truly beat me, (Page 112) we know that Santiago really wasnt defeated. He defeated his enemies. His enemies throughout the novel were the marlin, the sharks, and Mother Nature. He defeats the marlin by killing it, and defeats mother nature by surviving in the ocean on that skiff for three days. The only battle that has a hazy result is the one between the sharks and Santiago. Santiago was able to defeat the sharks, but not able to save the fish. Even though he won the battle he thinks he is defeated because they were able to take the marlin. But the reason he is not defeated is because he makes it back to his home. A real defeat is when you give up, and if Santiago is sleeping in his bed dreaming about lions it is a victory.
Santiago is not the only person to be destroyed but still successful. Nelson Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa. He was arrested for treason, and was put in prison for about 27 years. He was losing, but he never gave up so when he was freed he kept trying for equality between the whites and the blacks. His group was able to finally get the first multi-racial election in South Africa and Nelson Mandela was declared president. He was able to lead apartheid South Africa into a country of equality. Nelson Mandela was destroyed, but not defeated so he was able to rise from the murky depths into leading a free nation for the first time.
So in conclusion, destroy really means to damage, while defeat means to give up. A man can only take a certain amount of destruction before he succumbs to defeat. So that would mean if a person were defeated, they would not worthy of the title man. They would have the title coward. Sadly, it is hard to find real men in this world today, but a few stand out like Nelson Mandela and Gandhi. Santiago is just an example to the world that there are good people in this world.