Life Lessons from The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea is a classic fable with many life lessons. One of them teaches us that when we feel defeated, it’s time to step back and assess our situation.

The main message of the Old Man and the Sea is that life is a series of struggles. This work has become a classic because it tells the story of an old man who overcomes all these struggles to achieve his goal. Read more in detail here: what is the main message of the old man and the sea.

Old man and the sea fighting marlin painting.

“It’s what a guy has to do,” the child said.

All too frequently, “success” is supposed to be a measure of a man’s worth. However, success in and of itself may have little to do with the man’s path to get there, or whether or not he maintained his integrity along the way. The concept of redefining success and triumph is one of the many features in Ernest Hemingway’s famous novella The Old Man and the Sea that makes it so deep.

It seems to be a straightforward story: Santiago is an elderly, seasoned fisherman who hasn’t caught anything in months. He ventures far out into the Gulf of Mexico on the 85th day of this dry period, when he snags a huge marlin. When he can’t get the fish into his boat, he hangs on to the line for three days before harpooning it. Santiago returns home with his hard-won treasure after tying the fish to his boat. However, sharks consume the fish along the journey, and the elderly man returns to port empty-handed.

Yes, it’s a simple narrative on the surface, but it’s also one with a far deeper meaning and universal applicability. It refers to the universal facts of a man’s life in this world, where pride, respect, perseverance, and ambitions motivate a man to succeed in the face of adversity. It is a narrative of man’s indomitable spirit; Santiago is a symbol of a way of life, and his battle with the huge marlin teaches all men various things.

The Old Man and the Sea teaches us about manliness.

“A guy isn’t built to lose.”

Santiago has just a dilapidated shack and a decrepit boat with a sail “patched with flour sacks” and like “the flag of perpetual defeat.” His wrinkly skin bears witness to his tribulations, with deep-set wrinkles, scars, and blotches from the scorching heat. He is a pariah in his little fishing hamlet as a result of his awful catastrophe.

Despite the fact that “almost everything about Santiago is ancient,” his eyes are “the same color as the sea, bright, and undefeated.” Instead of giving up after 84 days of bad luck, he sails farther into the Gulf than he has ever gone before.

No matter what trials he faces, a man continues to do everything he must to the best of his abilities. Despite the fact that obstacles and losses may deprive a man of all outward marks of achievement, his spirit can persevere. For it has the power to inspire a man to never give up and to keep striving.

“A man may be destroyed but not vanquished,” as Hemingway phrased it.

A guy does not rely on chance.

In the narrative and in our daily lives, luck plays an important part, and bad luck may paralyze a superstitious group like fisherman. After going eighty-four days without catching a single fish in Santiago’s little Cuban fishing town, he is dubbed “salao,” which means “the worst kind of misfortune.”


This makes him an outcast among his contemporaries, and it loses him his faithful companion, the young Manolin, whose parents forbade him from fishing with the old man. While Santiago struggles with hunger and poverty, other boats from his area continue to catch nice fish every day.

Of course, everyone may have luck, but not everyone has desire, talent, or tenacity. Santiago is aware of this and, as a result, places his faith in his abilities rather than chance. He thinks to himself, “To heck with luck.” “I’ll carry my good fortune with me.”

He does this by refusing to take any shortcuts in his job. He maintains his fishing lines straighter than anybody else, and he ensures that “at each level…a bait will be waiting precisely where he intends it to be for any fish that swim there.” Santiago maintains a precise line and is prepared for anything comes his way.

We can’t expect wonderful things to happen to us if we sit around waiting for them to happen. We open ourselves up to opportunity when we push ahead toward a goal. “It’s better to be fortunate,” Santiago thinks. But I’d rather be precise. Then you’ll be ready when luck strikes.”

A guy is unflappable in the face of adversity.

The early chill had him shivering. He knew, however, that he would shiver himself warm and that he would soon be rowing.

A guy just does what has to be done, without self-pity or complaint, whether it’s something as little as being chilly or as momentous as skirting the edge of death. Santiago does not complain about his hunger or thirst, nor does he bemoan the cutting of his hands by the fishing line.

Santiago is faced with the biggest struggle of his life out at sea, far beyond the other boats. It manifests itself in the shape of an eighteen-foot marlin, resulting in a days-long conflict. Santiago’s hand gets sliced deep and tightens up “as tight as the grasped claws of an eagle” as he nears exhaustion. He soaks the cut in salt water and then dries it in the sun to keep it warm. But the hand refuses to cooperate, and he is forced to fight the big fish with just his right hand, which is two feet longer than his own boat. Santiago, exhausted, “sits against the wood” and “takes his misery as it comes.” He is comfortable, yet he is in pain, despite the fact that he refuses to accept it.”

A guy never brags.

The greatest way to judge a man’s character is to look at his acts, and growing humility is an important part of allowing our actions speak for themselves. During a talk with his young buddy Manolin, Santiago is offered several opportunities to brag, but he refuses.

“Who is the best manager, truly, Luque or Mike Gonzalez?” Manolin wonders.

“I believe they are on par.”

“And you are the finest fisherman.”

“No. Others are more familiar to me.”

“There are many fine fishers and some great ones,” the youngster continues, “but there is just you.”


“I appreciate it. You brighten my day. I’m hoping that no big fish comes along to prove us incorrect.”

And it’s only because of Santiago’s tenacity that none of them succeed. Insecurity is only temporarily alleviated by boasting. It has no lasting impact on the audience that hears it.

A guy gets his ideas from other people.

But I must have faith in myself and be worthy of the great DiMaggio, who performs flawlessly despite the agony of a bone spur in his heel.

“The great Joe DiMaggio” is Santiago’s inspiration and motivation. He has qualities that Santiago admires, reminding him that to be successful, one must devote one’s whole self to a goal and persevere in the face of adversity. Looking up to others–having heroes–gives us role models to emulate, the confidence that others have conquered similar challenges, and the assurance that a man’s life has limitless potential.

No matter how old he is, a guy goes down swinging.

Old age is a prevalent excuse, and although it has its place in certain situations, it is all too often used where it has no place or before any attempt has been taken to disprove the assumption. When sharks threaten Santiago’s marlin, he first believes that he will be unable to defend himself due to his age, but he quickly gets his equipment to use as weapons and does what he must. The horror returns as he breaks the blade off his knife in the body of one shark. He thinks to himself, “Now they’ve defeated me.” “I’m too old to kill sharks with a club.” But I’ll give it my all as long as I have the oars, short club, and tiller.”

And there will be many more sharks. He must use all of his might to club and attack them. “What will you do now if they arrive in the night?” Santiago worries as the sun sets during the conflict. “What are your options?” He does a lot of digging. “Fight them,” he continues, “and I’ll fight them till the end of time.”

Santiago’s marlin is finally ripped apart by the sharks, but they do not defeat him as a man, and he never quits up. He feels blood in his mouth as he paddles in, so he spits into the water and yells, “Eat that galanos.” Make a fantasy in which you’ve slain a guy.”

Sharks surround every man; they congregate when they smell the blood of true success. But you’re never too old to fight back.

The preservation of a man’s integrity is what determines his legacy.

Santiago leaves the pages of this narrative with the same feeling he had at the start: virtually nothing. His capture does not bring him money or “success,” but it does leave him with a legacy that will last much longer than any monetary benefit. Because he maintains his own integrity in the face of immense adversity; he fights hard and exhausts himself. A guy does not give up.




The old man and the sea is a classic story about life. The story symbolizes many things, but most notably it symbolizes perseverance and hope. Reference: what does the old man and the sea symbolize.

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