In life people are constantly faced with decisions. Some are as simple as deciding what to eat for breakfast that morning, and others are more difficult such as how you want to make your living as an adult. Sometimes you will be satisfied with the choices you make, but there will be times when you will regret a choice you make, and you will have to live with the consequences of your decision. The main character, Santiago, from The Old Man and the Sea is no exception. Throughout the book, the old man, passionate about fishing, comes across many unpredictable decisions he has to make. The main decision in the book that the old man is faced with is deciding whether or not to catch the marlin, and he decides to do it. This impulsive decision had both positive and negative outcomes.
One negative outcome of Santiago’s decision is that the marlin ends up getting taken away from him, leaving the old man very disappointed. “The old man could hear the noise of skin and flesh ripping on the big fish,” (102) as he watched the shark take the marlin away from him. Now the old man had put so much hard work into catching the marlin, and he didn’t even get to keep it. He had lost the thing he wanted most, and had put all the work in for nothing. Perhaps if he had known the marlin would get taken away from him, he wouldn’t have decided to stay on his boat for three days trying to catch it.
In fact, in the end Santiago regrets catching the fish, and that is a consequence he will always have to live with. He is very apologetic towards the marlin. “‘I wish it were a dream and that I had never hooked him. I’m sorry about it, fish. It makes everything wrong’…’I shouldn’t have gone out so far, fish,’ he said. ‘Neither for you nor for me. I’m sorry, fish,’” (110). The old man feels that he killed the fish for no reason. It ended up not being beneficial to him in any way, and he felt that he took the life of a fish he loved and respected even though the fish did not deserve this. You would expect the man to be very happy and giddy about his catch, but instead he is resentful.
Another reason Santiago probably shouldn’t have decided to catch the marlin was the fact that his hand got all cut up because of it. “The bird had flown up when the line jerked and the old man had not even seen him go. He felt the line carefully with his right hand and noticed his hand was bleeding,” (55-56). He got many severe cuts and a fairly painful hand cramp because of his decision to catch the fish.
Despite the many negative outcomes of the old man’s decision, there was actually a positive one. “He had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish…the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky,” (9). Santiago was beginning to become very hopeless, but he remind optimistic and stayed devoted to his fishing. He is patient, and eventually catches the marlin, breaking is unlucky streak. Though he didn’t actually get to keep the fish, he still had the credit and pride that came along with catching a fish that big. Also, people wouldn’t consider him as unsuccessful or like a bad fisherman anymore because he was able to capture such a large fish.
Every decision you make throughout your life will have either a positive or negative result, and some will have both. At times you will have to accept the consequences of making a bad decision and feeling remorseful, like the old man did, and other times you will be rewarded with the positive outcomes of your good decision.