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Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Old Man and the Sea: Christianity and Crucifixion

Ernest Hemingway portrays his fictional character, Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea, as a seeming and obvious connection to Christianity's biggest name, Jesus Christ. Hemingway puts Santiago through a few challenges to make correlations to Christ during crucifixion. Among these scenes are Christ's walk to Calvary with his own future death, the cross, on his back, the ways in which Christ was tortured, including his hands being nailed onto the cross and the lashes he received from so many whips, and the result of an epic battle of time and wits between his own strength and gravity pulling life out of him, inch by inch. At the start of the day, Christ was forced to travel on foot over numerous miles of unforgiving terrain in bare feet with two heavy pieces of wood held together in an awkward position on his back. Hemingway includes this in the novella by having Santiago carry his ship's mast across his shoulders down to the dock to assemble his ship. He must struggle every morning to get the mast down and back before and after the day's fishing trip. Next, just as Christ was given scars from the lines scraping across his body, Santiago receives the same kinds of scars from the fishing line running through his hands and across his back. The marlin is so strong that it is able to drag the boat, held only by Santiago himself, across the ocean. Such a force caused extreme amounts of stress on the old man's body, turning into cuts and deep gashes. Finally, as Christ did, Santiago endured and was able to win the battle, even having lost all strength. He reeled in his catch of a lifetime, and headed in for shore. Along the way, death came in and stole the flesh of the fish, like the life of Christ, but perserverence came through and glorified Santiago through the marvel of even the skeletal remains of the catch and glorified Christ by rewarding the hardships he faced during that fateful day.

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