Religious Symbolism in The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

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The incorporation of religion into literature is a common technique that adds significance to the overall meaning of any type of work. Ernest Hemingway, a passionate fisherman, successfully utilizes this technique in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novella, The Old Man and the Sea (Kinzer n. pag.). Considered one of his most famous and meaningful works, Hemingway’s novella details the journey of a poor but noble fisherman, Santiago, as he faces one of the greatest and most difficult struggles of his life. Throughout his telling of Santiago’s journey, Hemingway integrates a large amount of Christ symbolism that effectively portrays Santiago as Christ. Before his journey, Santiago’s master-disciple relationship with Manolin, his prior …show more content…
Though he is old in age, Santiago is youthful in spirit, as shown when Hemingway describes him, saying, “Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated” (Hemingway 10). Santiago refuses to let his age or his struggles hinder his outlook on life and always keeps a positive attitude, despite the brutal hardships he endures and the doubt that those around him have of him. Despite this widespread doubt, his young friend, Manolin, admires Santiago’s values and has a strong faith in Santiago. Santiago and Manolin have a master-disciple relationship, which parallels Christ’s relationship with his Twelve Apostles. Though Manolin’s faith in Santiago is firm, the rest of the town doubts his abilities, just as many people doubt the words of Jesus Christ. Manolin’s strong belief in Santiago stems as a result of Santiago’s three bountiful weeks in which he catches large fish every single day. These plentiful three weeks correlate with the three years of Christ’s public ministry in which Christ as well prospers. For both Santiago and Christ, these two spans of time, which are both marked by the number three, are the times in which they both gain their most loyal supporters and disciples. Santiago’s difficult 40 day period without catching a fish is a reference to Lent, the 40 days of sacrifice and hardship before Christ’s resurrection (Wilson 119-120). Santiago’s barren period

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