Christian Symbolism in The Old Research Paper

  • Length: 7 pages
  • Sources: 3
  • Subject: Mythology - Religion
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #20137710

Excerpt from Research Paper :

The moment when the line first cut into his hands in similar to the one when Christ's hands were nailed to the cross. Most readers are likely to make a connection between the two images at this point as the stigmata is an element which is present in both Santiago and in Christ.

Hemingway himself wants readers to be certain that the injured hand is an essential factor working as support to the comparison made between Christ and Santiago. The "Ay" exclamation also reinforces this belief. "There is no translation for this word and perhaps it is just a noise such a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood" (Hemingway, 1984, p. 82). Both the sufferings experienced by Christ and by Santiago have been made so that life will go on in peace.

Santiago stands as a living martyr (if such a concept can exist) in a world which treats him mercilessly. In contrasts to models such as courage, camaraderie, and dedication, Christianity is a unique theme. This can be observed through the special attention given to it by the author, as well as through the intensity with which it is depicted.

Santiago does not necessarily feel hatred for the sharks at the time when they attack him and rob him of his much prized possession. He understands that it is part of nature's ways of dealing with life and goes through the experience proudly, even though his morale is brought to the ground because of this episode. Physical pain, no matter of its amount, does not succeed in ruining the old man.

Critics might be inclined to believe that the similarities between Christ and Santiago are actually fewer than some people think. For example, they can consider the old man's mission to be merely honorable, and that there is nothing sanctifying about a man willing to risk his life in order to capture an extra-large fish. This should not mean that Hemingway wanted his hero to be lesser than a god-like being, but that he wanted the public to have a feeling of uniqueness when relating to the character. The author does not want his readers to believe that Santiago has lost his human features, as he actually goes at supporting this concept by referring to how the old man is not actually religious. In order for an individual to live a balanced life, he or she must not necessarily be religious, as they mainly have to devote themselves to living their lives by several rules meant to prevent them from falling to disgrace.

Christ is also a fisherman, just as Santiago, only that the former focused on catching human beings whom he would lecture to instead of capturing fish. While the missions of the two differ in character, they are basically the same in their simple form.

Santiago's former glory seems to be brought to its knees during his last years, as he cannot stop thinking about how his functions are becoming limited because of the fact that he is aging. All that he is left with are his dreams, most of them related to his past and to the pleasing experiences in his life.

The tourists present in the novel are examples of how ignorant people can be at times. Most of them have little to no information regarding what is going on in the outside world, as they prefer to remain faithful to the false image of life they created for themselves. They can be associated with the Romans, as they were indifferent toward what was going on with Jesus and were satisfied to observe how things were going without wanting to get actively involved in matters that did not affect them.

At the time when he reaches the shore and his ordeal appears to have ended, Santiago does not yield and keeps on carrying his burden. He does not leave the skeleton behind and takes it up the hill, as Hemingway presents an image similar to the one relating to Jesus and how he carried his cross, in spite of the fact that his physical powers were limited because of the experiences that he underwent.

As he enters the shack, Santiago falls with his hands wide spread and bleeding, this being a clear reference to the position of Christ on the cross.

Works cited:

1. Clark Pratt, John "My Pilgrimage: Fishing for Religion with Hemingway," The Hemingway Review 21.1 (2001).

2. Hemingway, Ernest. (1984). The old man and the sea. Barron's Educational Series.

3. Dunlavy Valenti, Patricia ed., Understanding the Old Man and the Sea: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002).

John Clark Pratt, "My Pilgrimage: Fishing for Religion with Hemingway," The Hemingway Review 21.1 (2001).

John Clark Pratt, "My Pilgrimage: Fishing for Religion with Hemingway," The Hemingway Review 21.1 (2001).

Patricia Dunlavy Valenti, ed., Understanding the Old Man and the Sea: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002).

Patricia Dunlavy Valenti, ed., Understanding the Old Man…

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