The Old Man and the Sea – Hard Work Doesn’t Always Pay

The Old Man and the sea is a short novel written by Ernest Hemingway. It was released in 1952. The story is written in typical Hemingway-fashion, with simple prose but still incredibly complex.

In the story, we meet an old fisherman, Santiago. He hasn’t caught any fish in 84 days and has lost his apprentice, Manolin, because of it. But on the 85th day, he finally hooks a huge marlin, that drags him out to sea. And after a three-day long battle, the old man is victorious. After securing the fish to his boat, he heads home. But the slain marlin attracts sharks, and a new battle begins, and this time it’s a losing one. The old man reaches the shore with only the skeleton of the 18 feet marlin left. He goes to bed. When he wakes up, the boy gets him coffee and tells Santiago that he wants to start fishing with him again.

There are many themes in the book; some are pride, loneliness, and nostalgia. However, I want to focus on the failure despite hard work. We all been told that “Hard work pays off,” but in the case of The Old Man and the Sea, hard work does not pay, or at least not as one would think.

I mean, the old man fought tooth and nail with a giant for three days and won, but he will not see a dime from it. Damned sharks! This flies in the face of the commonly held belief that hard work will always be rewarded. It won’t. For example, let’s say that you were a worker in communist Russia back in the day. No matter how hard you actually worked, you would still get the same pay. If there is no reward for being excellent; what is the point. However, this is only financial gains, and people have told me that there are more important things in life.

The old fisherman got richer, but just not financially. He got one hell of a story, and regained the respect from his fellow fishermen. And he also won the most important thing back. Manolin became his apprentice again, and that was probably priceless for the old man.

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