Although they hide for several hours, Ernesto and Alberto are eventually discovered by the sailors. The captain is furious, but eventually agrees to let them work to pay for their passage. Ernesto complains about unpleasant tasks like cleaning the bathrooms, but he enjoys the isolation of life at sea and the tranquil nights they spend playing cards with the crew.
Although they still get a youthful thrill out of doing something mischievous, like stowing away on a boat, now Alberto and Ernesto are much more willing to pay for their transgressions with the sweat of their brows, showing their increasing maturity. Moreover, Ernesto’s ability to fit in among the working-class sailors with ease shows his shifting class identifications.
Looking out on the sea, Ernesto reevaluates the path he wants his life to follow. Up to this point, he has been fully committed to a conventional career as a doctor, even if he hoped to use that career to work for social reform. However, now he feels that such a life is not enough to fulfill him. Rather, he decides that his purpose in life is to travel and observe “everything that came before [my] eyes” without settling anywhere permanently.
At this point, Ernesto has jettisoned the bourgeois aspirations he didn’t even question at the beginning of the trip, an important step on the road to becoming a revolutionary. Still, he defines his new path as a roving quest for personal development, showing he’s still more focused on himself than politics or improving the lives of others.