T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land Wiki

Shackleton's men were stranded in the Antarctic

Jesus appears to the disciples on their way to Emmaus

          The idea for this stanza was based on Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition where the psychological phenomenon of the Third Man Factor was first recorded. When certain people were going through the most desolate situation in their lives, they’ve said to see an extra person with them, or their group. All the members of the group admit the same experience. Now this might sounds creepy, but in truth this presence was a guiding figure for the survivors.

          This figure can be alluded to a passage in the Bible (Luke 24:13-25) in which the resurrected Jesus joined two disciples on their journey to Emmaus after they’ve heard the news about the empty Sepulchre (the place where Jesus was buried), but they were unable to recognize Him.          

          Oddly enough, T.S. Eliot also made connection of the hooded one with The Hanged Man tarot card that appeared in part I “The Burial of the Dead” and The Hanged God of Fraser, which first seems like a totally different story but eventually reuniting the identity of the hooded one. Lines 54-55 reads “I do not find The Hanged Man”, but here he is. Does this mean that the foretold future is not true? T.S. Eliot might be implying that the future has changed.          

          The Hanged God of Fraser refers to the figures who were responsible for conducting rituals of sacrifice explained in Sir James George Fraser’s work “The Golden Bough: A Study of Magic and Religion”. In a combination of Greek and Norse mythology, human were sacrificed by being hanged on a tree and being stabbed to death, often with a spear. This sounds a great deal like the crucifixion of Jesus.          

          To sum it up, all of these allusions suggest the identity of the hooded figure as some sort of guardian, sacrificing themselves to walk with us through the chaotic world we’ve created for ourselves. Lines 54-55 gives the expectation of the guardian in the form of The Hanged Man, but the guardian cannot be seen, or read by fortune tellers. Yet, when we’re walking through the barren and hopeless earth, the guardian will walk with us.