The Use of Christian Symbolism in The Old Man and the Sea Essay

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The Use of Christian Symbolism in The Old Man and the Sea Christian symbolism, especially images that refer to the crucifixion of Christ, is present throughout The Old Man and the Sea. During the old man’s battle with the marlin, his palms are cut by his fishing cable. Given Santiago’s suffering and willingness to sacrifice his life, the wounds are suggestive of Christ’s stigmata, and Hemingway goes on to portray the old man as a Christ-like martyr. As soon as the sharks arrive, Santiago makes a noise one would make “feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood.” And the old man’s struggle up the hill to his village with his mast across his shoulders is evocative of Christ’s march toward Calvary. Even the position in which…show more content…
Furthermore, the image of the old man struggling up the hill with his mast across his shoulders recalls Christ’s march toward Calvary. Even the position in which Santiago collapses on his bed—face down with his arms out straight and the palms of his hands up—brings to mind the image of Christ suffering on the cross. Hemingway employs these images in the final pages of the novella in order to link Santiago to Christ, who exemplified transcendence by turning loss into gain, defeat into triumph, and even death into renewed life. Life from Death Death is the unavoidable force in the novella, the one fact that no living creature can escape. But death, Hemingway suggests, is never an end in itself: in death there is always the possibility of the most vigorous life. The reader notes that as Santiago slays the marlin, not only is the old man reinvigorated by the battle, but the fish also comes alive “with his death in him.” Life, the possibility of renewal, necessarily follows on the heels of death. Whereas the marlin’s death hints at a type of physical reanimation, death leads to life in less literal ways at other points in the novella. The book’s crucifixion imagery emphasizes the cyclical connection between life and death, as does Santiago’s battle with the marlin. His success at bringing the marlin in earns him the awed respect of
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