As I read to the end of the story, I could understand the merit of it.
If I wrote this kind of story, I would write it as what is called a success story, but Hemingway didn't.
The old man in actually couldn't leave almost anything from the sea, but he could be appreciated by surrounding people and could feel the boy and other peoples' love for him.
But I think this end conflicts with Hemingway's real life. In the last class, we learned background, biography, and bias of this story, and I saw one picture that Hemingway is in with a big fish, with a proud look.
Assuming that the old man in this story reflects his true heart, maybe he wanted just love, rather than fame, in reality.
I also learned that many ways of love is expressed in this story.
I wonder he wanted to express true form of love in it, that he could not get in the real life.