Saint James Essay, Research Paper
Few writers have accomplished the task of captivating an audience by creating a Christ-like character. In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway achieves this task in his character development of Santiago. Santiago is a fisherman in the Caribbean who has had a successful and happy life, but has struggled for the last eighty-four day to catch a fish. He would then find himself in the greatest test of his life as he tries to reel in a great marlin. Though, his experiences in catching the marlin are very similar to the experiences Christ had in his last days. There are also similarities in their actions and relationships with people and their surroundings. The same numbers that have symbolic influence in the Bible have the same meanings in the Old Man in the Sea. Hemingway does a masterful job in creating Santiago as a Christ-like character. The first thing the readers would recognize is the name Santiago that means Saint James. The next maybe his reactions towards the surrounding environment. Santiago loves the creatures of the world, the dolphins, flying fish, sharks (Brenner 32). He reveals his saintliness again when the marlin makes three unexpected lurches. The first lurch causes Santiago a cut below his eye. The second lurch nearly tosses him off his boat but Santiago calls him “a friend”. The third lurch causes the line to jerk into his face, which causes burns and cuts on his hands and body. Though, through all of this, Santiago does not respond to his injuries or does not even curse the marlin. This absence of resentment towards the fish shows a saint-like and immediate forgiveness (Brenner 32). Santiago is as much Christ-like towards the people in his life as was Christ. Santiago treats the boy Manolin as an equal, in contrast to the fisherman to whom Manolin’s parents send him after Santiago’s forty days of no fish. This other fisherman never shares the duties of being a fisherman. Santiago also treats Manolin as his brother as his name means “little brother”. He also shows these characteristics towards less significant characters like flying fish, Joe DiMaggio, and the lions in his dreams. These ideas of equality and brotherhood show that Santiago is his brother’s keeper whose every act shows benevolent behavior shown by saints (Brenner 33).
When taken a deeper look into, Santiago endured the same physical pain that Christ felt in the days leading up to his crucifixion. Through his trip, Santiago’s straw hat irritated his head. Christ had to wear a crown of thorns that pricked his head. When the marlin lurches forward, Santiago repeatedly burns and cuts himself from the rope line. Christ had to endure the lashings from the whip. When Santiago returns from his three- day trip, he struggles carrying the mast from his boat, stumbling may times in front of the town’s people. Manolin offers to help Santiago, as did Simon do the same to Christ, but they both refuse the help. Christ is crucified with his arms spread out and his palms up. When Santiago returns home, he falls asleep in the same position. Some critics consider this occurrences to be coincidences, though there are too many of these coincidences to take credit away from Hemingway. The numbers that have a symbolic meaning in the Bible, play an important influence in the Old Man and the Sea. In the Bible, 3 has a great important for Christ is crucified on a Friday and rose on the Sunday. Also, Peter denied Christ three times while Christ was about to be taken away. In the short story, Santiago leaves on a Friday and returns on a Sunday. Santiago had to defend the marlin from sharks on three different occasions. Forty days is the period between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. It is also the amount of time Christ fasted and how long the flood lasted in the Old Testament. Santiago is not able to catch a fish in forty days with Manolin. Santiago fought off seven sharks and the world was created in seven days. In conclusion, Hemingway portrays Santiago as a Christ-like character. The symbolism that parallels Santiago’s trip and Christ last days gives this story such a strong allegorical meaning. The way Santiago treats the people around him and the surrounds is the same way a saint would. Though, the thing that leads people to believe that Hemingway intended to make the story on an allegorical level is the similarity in the physical pain Christ and Santiago endured and also the similarity in numbers. All these reasons make Santiago a Christ-like character.