Illustration of a marlin in the water

The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

Start Free Trial

Does Santiago represent a Christ-like figure in "The Old Man and the Sea"?

Quick answer:

Santiago is a Christ-like figure in that he has similar crises of faith, respects all of God's creations, and has a disciple. Santiago exhibits similar character traits as Jesus as well. There are also numerous biblical allusions throughout the book.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Throughout The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway draws repeated parallels between Santiago and Jesus Christ. Just like Christ, Santiago retains his faith when faced with extreme difficulty and doubt. Christ's crises of faith occur during periods of isolation. In order to shoulder the burdens of human sin, Christ momentarily separates himself from God. He is also tempted by Satan while alone in the desert. Santiago also experiences solitude in his struggle with the marlin and the sharks while he is alone at sea. Both Santiago and Jesus have disciples. Jesus has his twelve apostles while Santago has Manolin.

Overall, Santiago exhibits in his character certain traits that are commonly associated with Christ. He is generous, humble, and respectful of God's creations. No one would blame Santiago if he resented or hated the sharks. However, he sees the sharks as just a part of nature. He does not judge them just as Jesus does not judge his own adversaries.

To make the connection to Christ clear, there are allusions to the New Testament throughout this book. The injuries that Santiago suffers while on the boat parallel those of Jesus. When Santiago's hands are injured, the reader is meant to think of Jesus's hands being nailed to the cross. Towards the end of the book, Santiago struggles to carry the mast of his boat up a hill. This is an obvious parallel to Jesus carrying the cross.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial