Important Lessons From ‘The Old Man and the Sea’

Here are intriguing lessons you may have not known about while reading this book, ‘The Old Man and the Sea.’

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Ernest Hemingway’s book The Old Man and the Sea is a novel about an old man named Santiago, a fisherman who went eighty-four days without catching a fish. He was laughed at by most of his colleagues but was always encouraged by a young boy named Manolin.

Although it has been 69 years since The Old Man and the Sea was published in 1952, there are great takeaways from this book. It all comes down to connecting this book to our own challenges.


Firstly, always keep in mind your goals despite all the odds. Santiago said, “I should not have been a fisherman, but that was the thing that I was born for.” There are times when we just want to forget about our goals and plans because of disappointment, discouragement, and rage. Despite all, Santiago persevered and caught a fish; but not just any fish—he caught a big one that was rare and hard to catch.

At times, we might end up alone when taking a big step to accomplishing our dream. It might end up being a rough and bumpy ride, but with the right attitude, success is imminent. Santiago wished he had Mandolin by his side when confronted first with the fish, then the sharks, but when Mandolin wasn’t there, he reminded himself of his principles: “Man is not made for defeat, A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”

Being surrounded by a good companion is far greater than a thousand haters. Although young, Mandolin gave Santiago an extra push with his words, deep compassion, and listening skills. He said, “There are many good fishermen and some great ones. but there is only you.” He said this because Santiago never looked down on him for being a young boy. Never underestimate anyone keenly interested in you; you never know where true companions come from unless you give their friendship a try.

The journey was never going to be easy! Being far away from shore and in great pain, Santiago said “It is not bad, and pain doesn’t matter to a man” with strong determination. Whether he won or lost, it could have cost him his life. Instead, he stood firm and rock-solid on his goal.

Another point that is so simple and always overlooked is that you must always be ready. “I could go without sleeping, but it would be too dangerous,” said Santiago. Think of this: if Santiago had not remained alert and ready, he wouldn’t have won the battle against the fish and the shark. This lesson is applicable to our daily challenges, too.

Many may not have examined the book this way, but you can always go back to your bookshelf and read this book again. If you haven’t read this book, do read it, and don’t forget to use your imagination. For more inspiring books, check out our recommendations here.