Van in front of Grand Tetons

The Old Man and the Sea – A Story that Goes Beyond the Pages

Jackson Nielsen

The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway is one of my all time favorite books. I first stumbled upon this book via the website On this website is a list of books that every man should read in their life. So, I thought I’d give it a read. After reading this short novel, it took its place at the top of my favorite books of all time. The story is centered around Santiago, a fisherman who had not caught a fish in eighty-four days and is labeled as being salao, or bad luck. One day, he hooks the fish of a lifetime, a giant marlin. But the fish is not so easy to catch. Santiago is taken on a many day struggle of trying to reel in this giant fish. Throughout the story there are many moments where the theme of perseverance is shown. I really loved this as a big believer in the quality of mental toughness, which Santiago displays numerous times throughout the story.

After many days of battle, Santiago finally reels in the marlin and lashes it to the side of his vessel and prepares for the long journey home. This is when the sharks come. Santiago is helpless as the sharks tear into the flesh of the now deceased fish. I love this analogy as many times in life we put so much effort into an endeavor only to be disappointed. This is another moment where being mentally tough comes into play. Santiago, exhausted and beaten, still manages to find the strength to do his best of fighting off the underwater predators. 

When Santiago finally returns home, all that is left of his prized catch is a skeleton of what could have been. So, defeated, Santiago returns to his barebones hut and goes to bed. In the morning, after he has awoken, he gets up and prepares to go out and fish. Although he faced such a supreme loss, he still has the mental fortitude to go back out and do the thing that brought him so much pain. The same can be said about life. When we face disappointing results, the best thing to do is get back on the metaphorical horse and keep on fishing. Throughout this book, there are many life lessons that can be instilled in us and I would highly recommend this book to all. It is a short read that goes fast and one that can have a lasting effect if the words are taken to heart.