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The Old Man and the Sea: Papa’s Cruciform Writing


“Ay,” he said aloud. There is no translation for this word and perhaps it is a noise such as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood.”
I still am not convinced that Ernest Hemngway meant no intended allusions to Jesus Christ in the character of “the old man,” Santiago, in The Old Man and the Sea. What are we to make of the quote above? Just two pages before this sentence (in my edition), Hemingway has Santiago ruminating about sin. Besides I think it is a sin [not to hope]. Do not think about sin, he thought. There is enough problems without sin.
Again, imagine the cross-shaped mast and sail as you read: He unstepped the mast and furled the sail and tied it. The he shouldered the mast and started to climb. It was then he knew the depth of his tiredness. He stopped and looked back and saw the reflection from the street light the great tail of the fish standing well up behind the skiff’s stern…. He started to climb again and at the top he fell and lay for some time with the mast across his shoulder. How can this not be an intended allusion to Jesus falling beneath his cross on the Via Delorosa?
At some point I am going to catalogue every overtly Christian/Catholic reference in the story. The number of them is overwhelming. Here are a few more: Santiago is out too far in the Gulf for three days and three nights. Santiago is happy to think that San Pedro [Saint Peter] was a fisherman as was the father of the great [Joe] DiMaggio. Not too mention Santiago’s promise to God of many “Hail Marys and Our Fathers.”
Just like Calvinists and Armininians, classical determinists and open theists, complementarians and egalitarians, KJV-only and TNIVers, so there are those who believe Hemingway intended no comparison between Santiago and Jesus Christ and others, like myself, who hold to Hemingway’s very intended allusions to Jesus Christ (even though Hemingway declared that he had no symbolism in mind).
What do you think?