With the main focus of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea being self-satisfaction being ultimately determined by effort and resilience, true and absolute fulfillment exists only within the self. After witnessing what the poor old man has gone through because fishing and the sea is his passion, the reader can wonder if this epic adventure is completely fair. Sometimes life can throw some overbearing and non-understandable obstacles that people are forced to deal with in order to keep on living. Fortunately, some of these challenges can define an individual. In some occasions, reality is not always what people want it to be. Nothing really makes since in this world, and maybe that is the complete idea of living in this whirlpool because no really knows where they will end up. A person can come home with the prize-winning catch or with simply a memorable experience to recite. There are many lessons to be learned in the story. Obviously, one should never give up his true passions and goals in life even if the dreams that are yearning to be reached seem so astronomically unreachable. Another is to make the best in a situation. This does not mean to conform to something that goes against certain principles, but to be true to the final decision in any given situation. Of course, society can be cruel and unsympathetic at times, but whenever faced with adversity, one should find a way to play on.
Old age is a common excuse, and for certain things it is legitimate, but all too often it is used either where it has no place or before any effort has been made to prove the assumption wrong. When the sharks begin attacking Santiago’s marlin, at first he fears that he cannot defend himself because of his age, but before long, he gathers his tools to be used as weapons and does what he must. When he breaks the blade off his knife in the body of one shark, the fear sinks in again. “Now they have beaten me,” he thinks. “I am too old to club sharks to death. But I will try as long as I have the oars and the short club and the tiller.”
Being heroic and manly are not merely qualities of character which one possesses or does not. One must constantly demonstrate one's heroism and manliness through actions conducted with dignity. Interestingly, worthiness cannot be conferred upon oneself. Santiago is obsessed with proving his worthiness to those around him. He had to prove himself to the boy: "the thousand times he had proved it mean nothing. Now he was proving it again. Each time was a new time and he never thought about the past when he was doing it" (66). And he had to prove himself to the marlin: "I'll kill him....in all his greatness and glory. Although it is unjust. But I will show him what a man can do and what a man endures" (66). A heroic and manly life is not, then, one of inner peace and self-sufficiency; it requires constant demonstration of one's worthiness through noble action.