The Old Man and the Sea - A Journey to Enlightenment


Through time, as distant as the early periods when Homo habilis first roamed the earth, man has incessantly entered into conflict with nature. As the primitive man has evolved, he has become over-dependant on nature to the point where he takes advantage of its abundance of gifts. Despite the fact that man has a tendency to desecrate nature, there are those who recognize and praise its power and make an effort to become one with it. Though it may sound refreshing to know that man can appreciate nature, being truly considerate of nature is virtually impossible. A person who has read Ernest Hemingway's final novel, The Old Man and the Sea, and has interpreted the protagonist as a lover of all creatures is manipulated by Hemingway's usage of biblical allusions to suggest a concealed Christ figure in the old man, Santiago. Hemingway's novel uses the timeless theme of man versus nature to tell a story, with the support of allusions to Christ, of an old man who, after losing his only reason for living, strives to prove himself a superior individual and discover the meaning of life through nature.
The name Santiago is a biblical reference that translated into English means Saint James. Those who are direly active with the Christian religion and have read "The Old Man and the Sea" perceive the old man as an indirect reference to Saint Francis of Assisi. In the bible, Saint Francis was born to a wealthy merchant and when he grew older, he distributed his riches among the poor. Saint Francis of Assisi was best known for his love of birds and was believed to have the ability to communicate with them. While at sea, Santiago speaks to all the birds that pass because of his loneliness caused by the absence of his fishing partner, Manolin. One fish in particular, a warbler, flew by Santiago and perched on the stern of his boat. Santiago then tells the fish that he looks very tired and should take a rest. "Take a good rest, small bird," he said. "Then go in and take your chance like any man or bird or fish." This conversation with the bird conjures up the admonition given by Jesus to his followers. Jesus said that if his followers fought and gave it his or her all, they would be rewarded in the end. This is a lesson that Santiago learns by novel's end. After trying his hardest to defend his hundred-pound prize, the sharks still manage to eat every ounce of flesh on the fish's bones; however, the bones of the gigantic creature remained and were the proof that he caught this enormous fish. The people of his village rewarded Santiago with fame and admiration.
Additionally, Santiago's saintliness is abruptly implicated at novel's start. "But after forty days without a fish?the old man was now definitely and finally salao?the worst form of unlucky." Santiago went forty days without catching or eating a single fish. This was nature's test. In comparison, for forty days, Jesus was tested by the Devil, and during that time he went without eating. Furthermore, Hemingway went on to describing Santiago as a man who shared the same physical scars as Jesus. "His hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish?but none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fish-less desert." The scars in the hands of Santiago bring to mind the stigmata remaining in the palms of Jesus after his crucifixion. The scars described as being "old as erosions" supports the word Old in the title. By this point, the connotations may seem like a coincidence, but deeper into the novel, the likelihood of a Christ figure in Santiago complicates.
The crucifixion of Jesus is a symbol that is used repeatedly to support the notion that there may be a Christ figure in Santiago. During Santiago's first night at sea, the marlin "made a surge that pulled him [Santiago] down on his face and made a cut below his eye. The blood ran down his cheek." This excerpt presents the image of a man with a tear of blood on his cheek. Strangely, this depiction recalls the famous painting of Christ with a tear of blood on his cheek after wearing the crown of thorns. The potentiality of the biblical allusions