A friend asked me to read this book and see what I think of it. She was not able to appreciate this back then and could not even believe it won the Pulitzer and Nobel prize, I couldn’t blame her either for her young mind, I would simply shrug this book off if I were to read it in high school but I’m glad for the opportunity to read this now and grasp its meaning.
The story and setting is so simple, an old fisherman was unlucky for not being able to return home with a catch and so he set out to the sea and on the 84th day with nothing, he ventured his skiff far beyond the island to catch the biggest fish that could fed many, a fish worthy enough for him. He was able to hook a Marlin but since it was too huge and strong he couldn’t pull it up and so begins the tug of war between the seasoned fisherman and the great Marlin.
Alas when he was able to kill the marlin with the harpoon and pull it close to the skiff, he met another problem when the its blood attracted sharks as he was sailing home. They tore chunks of its meat, and devoured them. The old man fought them as best as he could and even killed some of the sharks, lost his rope and harpoon in the battle but there were just too many predators and so he sailed home carrying the marlin with nothing but its skeleton.
The old man never lost his tenacity with what he wants to the point that it was an obsession but really human nature is like that, we are all passionate beings, proud enough that we do not want to give in to defeat. Sometimes we lose that drive in us but then an opportunity creeps up and we are suddenly young again, our blood boils and crave that rush. Just like the old man pursuing the giant fish, men also pursue the things that are difficult to reach, we choose our worthy opponents; we pursue great things to prove we are worthy and equal even to the point of destruction but I love how the old man recognized how great and worthy the Marlin was of him and even apologized for ruining them both. As long as we are proud of what we do, ruined as we may be in the end at least we gave it our best shot and that’s how we know we are all winners in our hearts. And so I leave you with this quote. Ah shit, I’m not being cheesy am I?
“But man is not made for defeat,” he said. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”