"All those who feared death wanted to hold his hand like an anchor" (Simile)
The beauty of this simile is that it works in both directions. On one hand, the simile may mean that to those villagers who feared death, Don Manuel was an anchor, a source of stability and comfort in their struggles. On the other, it may mean that to Don Manuel, the villagers' neediness became an anchor that burdened him and weighed him down. Which of these interpretations did Miguel de Unamuno intend? In all likeliness, Unamuno's ambiguity in this line is intentional, cleverly revealing the double-edged nature of Don Manuel's relationship with the village.
"It's time for the truth, no matter how bitter it is; as bitter as the sea into which the sweet waters of our lake will empty" (Simile)
In this simile, the "truth" to which Lazaro refers to is the afterlife that awaits him—or, in his opinion, the lack thereof. The simile refers to how Don Manuel and Lazaro view religion as a means to protect the villagers of Valverde de Lucerna; they use religion as a sweet, soothing agent meant to mask the bitter, intolerable truth of the inevitability of death from the villagers' lives.
"It was as though the voice of Don Manuel had dropped into a lake, which was that of the people, and his had become silent" (Simile)
This simile reflects upon the self-sacrificial nature of Don Manuel's priesthood in Valverde de Lucerna. At first, it appears to empower Don Manuel, surrounding his voice with the village's multitudes. However, it is revealed that in doing so, Don Manuel's own voice becomes silent. This simile demonstrates how in order to fulfill his priestly duties, Don Manuel willingly gives up his personal "voice," or identity, and allows himself to act as a vehicle through which the ideas and needs of the villagers can be expressed.
"... in the divine novel of our existence" (Metaphor)
In the final ending of San Manuel Bueno, Martyr, the epilogical narrator describes the human existence as a "divine novel" in which all individuals partake. This metaphor unites the contrasting beliefs about religion depicted in the story under the umbrella of the grand story of the human race. By doing so, the epilogical narrator allows all humans to have a purposeful, sustained existence, imbuing their lives with meaning in much the same way religion does for Valverde de Lucerna.
San Manuel Bueno, Martyr Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for San Manuel Bueno, Martyr is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.