The term cardel is rather obscure. It is likely that Hemingway meant cordel, which is "a thin rope or line used on board a ship." Thus, Catalan cardel would be fishing line made in Catalonia.
For more information on the marlin, see the second Bookmark for page 11.
"Blue marlin have an unusual swim bladder in the form of a thin-walled, multichambered sac extending from the level of the first pectoral fin to behind the first anal fin. Observations of marlin 'finning' near the surface with the dorsal and caudal fins high above the water show that the bladder is large enough for the fish to be positively buoyant near the surface."
"A hurricane . . . is a system with sustained winds of at least 33 metres per second (64 kn) or 74 miles per hour (119 km/h)."
Hemingway is a master of polysyndetic writing--the intentional use of repeated conjunctions (usually "and") to achieve a certain style or feel. This paragraph, describing the crucial moment in the story when Santiago first sees the fish, is a beautiful example.
The line rose slowly and steadily and then the surface of the ocean bulged ahead of the boat and the fish came out. He came out unendingly and water poured from his sides. He was bright in the sun and his head and back were dark purple and in the sun the stripes on his sides showed wide and a light lavender. His sword was as long as a baseball bat and tapered like a rapier and he rose his full length from the water and then re-entered it, smoothly, like a diver and the old man saw the great scythe-blade of his tail go under and the line commenced to race out.
"Our Fathers" and "Hail Marys" are traditional Roman Catholic prayers. A Hail Mary (or, in Latin, Ave Maria) forms the basis of the Rosary and is based on Luke 1:28 and 42. Santiago quotes it later on this page ("Hail Mary full of Grace the Lord is with thee. . . .")
An Our Father (Pater Noster in Latin) is commonly known as the Lord's Prayer and is based on the prayer that Christ modeled for His disciples as part of the Sermon on the Mount (see also the video below):
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our supersubstantial bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. Amen. (Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible)
For an explanation of the Virgin of Cobre, see Bookmark for page 16.
See the first Bookmark for page 21. Based on the Yankees' schedule for September 1951, the date must be September 13, 14, or 15.
Santiago was not alone in thinking DiMaggio "does all things perfectly." Watch this tribute to DiMaggio, which includes a portion of the hit song "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio," sung by Betty Bonney with Les Brown and His Orchestra.
From Wikipedia: "A cockfight is a blood sport between two roosters (cocks), held in a ring called a cockpit. Cockfighting is now illegal throughout all of the United States, Brazil and in most of Europe."
Ernest Hemingway and His World, a biography by Anthony Burgess, includes a photo of Hemingway and his gardener watching a cockfight. The caption quotes Hemingway: "Where else [other than Cuba] can you train cocks and fight them and bet those you believe in and be legal? Some people put the arm on fighting cocks as cruel. But what . . . else does a fighting cock like to do?" (page 94).
Casablanca in this case is not the famous Moroccan city but an area of Havana, close to Cojimar. The name "Casablanca" means "white house" in English.
Cienfuegos is the name of both a province and a city near the southern coast of Cuba.
"The hand game" is a reference to arm wrestling.
El Campeón is Spanish for "The Champion."
Miami is a city on the eastern coast of southern Florida, a little more than 200 miles northeast of Havana. Founded in 1896, it was a relatively young city when The Old Man and the Sea was published in 1952.
This is a nice Hemingway touch. Used to measuring depth in fathoms, the old man assumes height would be measured the same way. Height is, in aviation, actually measured in feet; two hundred fathoms high would be an altitude of 1200 feet.
The mast-head is simply the top of a mast on a sailing ship. Cross-trees, according to thefreedictionary.com, are "pieces of timber at a masthead, to which are attached the upper shrouds. At the head of lower masts in large vessels, they support a semicircular platform called the 'top.'"
Later, Santiago calls it dorado, meaning "golden."
In 1934, Hemingway wrote his friend John Dos Passos, "I am in training to be a naturalist." Now it may be difficult for many to think of Ernest Hemingway as a naturalist or conservationist, since it seemed he never met an animal he didn't want to kill. But back then, being a conservationist--in the tradition of Teddy Roosevelt--meant conserving animals today to have animals to hunt tomorrow. It meant understanding these animals, studying them in their natural habitat, analyzing their migration, feeding habits and physical changes over their life span. Further, it meant sharing that mystical bond between the hunter and the prey, the bond that Ernest wrote of so memorably in The Old Man and the Sea. The character Santiago speaks of his love and admiration for the great fish even as he is determined to kill it.