In "The Old Man and the Sea," how does the religious imagery reinforce the theme of transcendence: of turning loss into gain and death into life?
What is the significance of religious imagery in the novella?
May I assume that you are familiar with the religious imagery? The fact that Santiago is a fisherman, and Jesus was a fisherman? The fact that Santiago has a "disciple" in Manolin, who leaves his father to "follow" Santiago? Santiago has wounds on his hands, as does Jesus, Santiago falls several times while trying to carry the "mast" to his shack, Santiago hooks the great marlin on a Friday but then waits three days for the marlin to surface before finally killing the fish? There are many more examples of religious imagery - see if you can find them!
How does the religioius imagery reinforce the theme of transcendence, turning loss into gain, death into life? At the beginning of the novella, Santiago believes he has lost his touch, his luck as a fisherman. At the end, he gains it back after catching the marlin. He really loses the marlin itself, but he does not lose the fact that he caught it. This fact cannot be taken away from him, even if no one believes he really caught the marlin. So this is gain for Santiago.
In the Bible, Jesus tells a crowd that if they want to follow him, they must lay down their lives. He is referring to their earthly lives. What he offers them is eternal life. The Bible teaches that death is not the end because it leads to this eternal life. In this way, the sharks eating the marlin is not the end of what Santiago has "gained" for himself. With the marlin's earthly death, Santiago gains back his "life" as a fisherman.