English Literature » Notes » Hemingway Code Hero
Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway Code Hero

Hemingway’s code hero is defined by a static set of characteristics. These characteristics remain essentially the same throughout all of his novels, though each of these code heroes is expressed differently. This code hero is someone who after facing too many problems is able to withstand all trials. He is free-willed, self-disciplined, typically an individualist and lives up to the richness of life. He knows that in the end, he will lose because we are all mortal, but he believes that the true measure is how a person faces death.

According to Hemingway, the Code Hero as a-

man who lives correctly, following the ideals of honor, courage and endurance in a world that is sometimes chaotic, often stressful, and always painful.

We find this particular set of characteristic in Santiago (The Old Man and the Sea), Frederic Henry (A Farewell to Arms) and Jake Barnes (The Sun Also Rises).

Table of Content:

Santiago: code hero in The Old Man and The Sea

The Old Man and the Sea as the title implies, tells about an elderly man named Santiago, a fisherman. His greatest adventure took place in the sea. He has this small boat and he goes out in the sea together with a boy. He’s old but still looks cheerful and unconquered. He lived in this shack all by himself. Thanks to the boy who has been his companion.

Santiago, our lead character, had been in the ocean for 84 days but was unsuccessful in catching fish. Because of this, the boy’s parents stopped him from staying with Santiago. The boy had his own boat and later on, the boy became more successful than Santiago. But he still cares for Santiago. Every now and then they meet and share their good times together. Baseball is one of the topics they enjoyed talking about.

On his 85th day in the ocean, Santiago never gave up. He never lost hope considering the length of time in his pursuit for a really big catch. Then he decided to go much farther in the sea in search of this fish. Time came when the bait of his harpoon seemed to have trapped something in it.

It seemed difficult to pull. And Santiago was right. He caught a fish 18-foot long. Something more than what he was expecting. But there was a problem: How to load this fish on his boat? The fish was strong that he couldn’t do anything but let himself be pulled by this fish. He was determined not to let this opportunity go. So he endured everything just to hold on the fish line so as not to let the fish go away. How he really wish that the boy was right there by his side seeing this great adventure.

When finally he can pull the fish back home, unfortunately, along the way, sharks were following him. He wrestled among these sharks. He defeated the sharks but still lose the battle when he found out that the 18-foot long fish had been almost eaten up by the sharks.

Is Santiago an example of a code hero? Santiago had endured many problems in the story. Even from the beginning up to the end of the story, problems never left Santiago. He was patient in facing each problem because he has this strong sense of faith that somehow all these things happening to him shall come to pass.

It looks impossible but the author makes it seems possible for many things to happen. Santiago wanted to prove that although he was well advanced in years, he was still a good fisherman.

He battled the elements of nature. He doesn’t look in his weaknesses but focus on his strengths. He believed that he could catch many fish. Though Santiago had faced several misfortunes in his life, he was hoping for something good to happen. He experienced being ridiculed, but he just kept going. He was willing to risk his life. He battled with sharks out of his determination to bring home the prize of his labor, in complete pieces.

In spite of the many misfortunes, Santiago was an appreciative person. He admired the strength of the 18-foot long fish. He believed that every man is born to succeed in life, not to experience defeat. Applying what he believed, Santiago was very sorry for the fish because it too, should not experience defeat. This also showed that Santiago had a soft heart. He was concerned not only for his life but for others’ life, too.

With these characteristics could we consider Santiago a code hero? A big yes for that! With everything that happened, with the attitude he showcased, Santiago was a qualified Hemmingway’s code hero. Santiago’s attitude towards life was the key to his success.

The story can be compared to a child animated story of a heroic adventure that captures our imagination. It is a story on courage and endurance in times of troubles. Hemmingway used simple characters yet with outstanding characteristics; a simple setting yet with a great story to tell.

The author gives life to his code hero on a man like Santiago. The mood of the story is a bit serious but a good sense of humor can also be observed. The story will surely make us explore the possibilities of our imagination. With Santiago’s character, we can say that everything is possible to achieve if, like Santiago, we have the guts, determination, skills, and correct attitude in facing the world’s challenges.

Frederic Henry: code hero in A Farewell to Arms

Ernest Hemingway‘s 1914-1918 autobiographical novel, A Farewell to Arms, takes place on the Italian front during World War I. Frederic Henry, the main character, is a young American ambulance driver for the Italian army during the war. He is extremely disciplined and courageous, but feels detached from life. Rinaldi, a surgeon and friend of Frederic’s, introduces him to an English nurse named Catherine Barkley. Once introduced, Frederic discovers a capacity for love that he never knew he held.

They begin seeing each other frequently, but keep it secret for fear of the army getting involved. While they were dating Henry was hurt in the war and sent to another hospital away from Catherine. Throughout the novel Frederic changes from an innocent, young soldier to a Hemingway code hero. Critics gave the term code hero to Hemingway’s novels because of the exact characteristics of writing each has. A code hero is one who is a brave man of action, knowledge, stoical, and a strong survivor. Frederic’s change into the code hero is displayed through his change in the way he looks at life and war.

His experiences show that life is a trap and there is no hope for happiness. In the beginning Frederic exhibit’s few characteristics of becoming the code hero. His views on life and the war are extremely naive, innocent, and idealistic. Early in the book he is more of a spectator to the war because he only notices his surrounding’s, but misses the effects of the situation he is in. When talking about the war and the epidemic of cholera that has come through, he says, “? Only seven thousand have died. quot; This illustrates his innocent perception of the war because he doesn’t acknowledge how many people have actually died. Without understanding the reality of his surroundings he forgets that he too can die from the war. When the Italian army decides they must attack, Frederic must then leave for the battle site so he will be capable of getting anyone who is injured or killed. On his way he begins to notice the elegance of the countryside. This shows that his views of war are still idealistic through the fact that he still takes time to admire the beauty of the area around him.

He still doesn’t see the destruction of the war that is happening right before his eyes. At the front, while setting waiting for the attack, he begins a conversation with another ambulance driver named Passini. Frederic makes patriotic comments to Passini by defending the fighting and commenting that defeat is worse than war. Frederic gets hungry and goes after a piece of cheese. He insists on eating with the other soldiers in an attempt to bring fairness and equality to the army. This is impossible because of the rank status of officers compared to soldiers.

He sits down on after getting the cheese and at that moment a shell goes off sending a bright light in front of him. At first Frederic thought he was dead because of the pain, but the blast had sent shrapnel heavily into his leg. After being taken to hospital and looked at Frederic has surgery done to his knee. He is then put on leave for the summer to let it heal. The bomb that had injured Frederic killed the other ambulance driver, Passini. This reality marked the beginning his of conversion into the code hero. This conversion however, is not brought by just one event.

Later on, once Frederic has returned to the war, one of his men, Aymo, got an ambulance stuck in the mud. At this point Frederic had taken on two engineering sergeants. He orders them to help cut brush to free the car but they both refuse. They begin to walk away and Frederic fires three shots and takes one of them down. Bonello, another member of his crew, goes and finishes off the wounded sergeant. This shows how he slowly begins to convert into the code hero because it represents his courageous character in the fact that he takes any challenging matter into his own hands.

Also, once back on their way to rejoin the rest of their people, they must cross a bridge into what has already been claimed German territory. On their way across shots are fired in their direction and Aymo is hit. They move to see where he was shot and Frederic says, “His head ought to be uphill. ” They then notice that he has been shot in the back of the neck and the bullet pierced through under the right eye. Once Aymo is dead they turn around only to find that the Germans did not fire the shots, but that it was the Italian’s. Frederic is now beginning to see the destruction f the war. His idealistic views are converting to those of the code hero. People play a part in the transformation of Frederic into the code hero as well. His friend at the base, Rinaldi, has a very cynical outlook on life. This outlook has the idea that life is a trap and there is no hope for happiness. Rinaldi begins to lead Frederic into a perspective much like his own. One example is when he and Rinaldi are talking about the war and what has happened since Frederic has been on leave. Rinaldi says, ;But now, baby, it’s all over.

I don’t operate now and I feel like hell. This is a terrible war baby. You believe me when I say it?. ; Rinaldi’s view of life is being exposed to Frederic. Frederic is understanding that life really is a trap and that nothing will bring happiness. The only thing that keeps him from becoming the code hero is his love for Catherine. But she too is teaching him cynicism. She shows him the importance of courage in life and gives him the idea that you must be strong to fight through life. When Frederic is introduced to her views, they teach him to believe in them.

Another example of Frederic’s conversion is when he plays a game of billiards with a man named Count Greffi. Count Greffi teaches him the importance of surviving. He tells Frederic that you must value life and what it gives you. Frederic understands this concept and that pushes him even more toward becoming the ccesarean ode hero. Frederic’s conversion into the code hero is finalized in the end of the novel. Catherine begins to go into labor and they must go to the hospital. They find out from the doctor that her pelvic bone is too small to have the baby.

Therefore they must do a cesarean section. A baby boy was delivered, but never had a heartbeat. He was choked to death by the umbilical cord. Once Frederic finds out he begins to talk to himself about the child and says, “But they killed you in the end. ” Frederic is referring “they” as life and the hopelessness it holds. Also, during the same part, he starts talking about his life and says, “I wished the hell I’d been choked like that. No I didn’t. ” This shows the characteristic of being a survivor. He knows life is inevitable and that he must survive.

He then finds out that Catherine is hemorrhaging and that she is going to die. He goes in to see her, but her speech was limited. While he is there she says, “I’m not a bit afraid of it. It’s just a dirty trick. ” Her cynic outlook on life proves that life is no more than a trick. During her last moments, Frederic is very unemotional. He has acquired the knowledge that life is an uphill struggle, which must be experienced alone and is inescapable to man. This proves his cynic outlook on life, and finalizes him as the code hero.


Jake Barnes: code hero in The Sun Also Rises

Jake Barnes in The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway is an American veteran of World War I who lives and works in Paris as a newsman. Jake Barnes is the typical Hemingway Code Hero in this novel, but he does fail to meet certain aspects of the code. First, he is not a man in the traditional sense of the word. Due to a wound in WWI, he is essentially sexless. The Hemingway code hero indulges in all aspects of the word pleasure, mainly those of alcohol and women. Second, he breaks the Hemingway code by violating the trust of another man, especially when he violates it for a woman.

He introduces Brett Ashley to Pedro Romero, the famous bullfighter, against the wishes of his friend and fellow bullfighting afficionado, Montoya. However, in many ways, Jake Barnes does meet the standards of a code hero. He handles his liquor well, and he loves hunting, fishing, and the outdoors. He has faced death, and is not afraid of it. Jake is also disillusioned with life after surviving WWI, like many young adults after the First World War. Behind the traditional concept of the code hero lies the disillusionment of the ‘lost generation’ of younger people, resulting from WWI.

The code hero has to create a new set of values and concepts, because the traditional ones embedded in Christianity had not saved man from catastrophe. The Code hero had to find a place, then, that was not dominated by these precepts. Many members of the lost generation found this refuge in Paris, as did Jake Barnes. The spiritual values of code heros were not Christian; they essentially believed that there was no afterlife after death, so life must be experienced to the fullest.

If facing total oblivion after death, the response of the Code hero is to enjoy all kinds of physical pleasures: to drink excessively, to have frequent affairs, to eat fine food, to indulge himself in any and all available sensuous pleasures. A code hero may drink, but he may never lose control of himself. Jake, even when drunk, is lucid and in control.. A sloppy drunk shows a lack of discipline, an essential characteristic of all code heroes. The Hemingway man enjoyed outdoor sports, such as hunting, fishing, bullfighting. Jake enjoys all of these.

After declining Robert Cohn’s invitation to South America, he mentions big game hunting in Africa. While vacationing in Spain, he and his friend Bill Gorton relax and fish along the Irati River in Basque before attending the bullfighting festival in Pamplona. During their time in Basque, they live close to the earth, fishing and hiking through the hills. This “roughing it” concept is also a characteristic of the code hero. But one of the most defining aspects of the code hero, and Jake, is how he deals with death and dying. He must avoid death at all costs, because it means the end of life, but must not fear it.

The test of a Hemingway hero is how he performs under pressure, or in deadly situations. Jake enlisted in the army, was shipped overseas and injured accidentally. He wasn’t hurt during a romantic battle against a ruthless foe, but during an accident. Jake sees this as a flaw, and it is one to the Hemingway design. According to the code, men must face death in extraordinary situations and overcome it. Jake is not entirely a man, thus not making him entirely a true code hero. He is sexless, therefore not meeting the classical definintion of what it means to be manly..

He must find other ways to define himself by using moral pose, and to behave honorably and well. He fails to do this during the novel, betraying the trust of his friend Montoya, who asked Jake to keep the bullfighter Pedro Romano away from alcohol, women, and Americans. In order to give Brett what he believes is the perfect surrogate to himself he introduces two and leaves, feeling the shame of his actions as Montoya watched him. The innkeeper avoided him for the rest of the festival, signifying that their friendship was over.

This failure makes Jake human, and gives him a chance at redemption. In conclusion, the classic Hemingway code hero is defined by his views of death and how he reacts when facing it, and how he lives his life in response to his conception of death and the afterlife. Jake fits the mold the Hemingway code hero because he is of the lost generation and lives the Hemingway lifestyle : expressing yourself in actions, not words, writing, enjoying the outdoors, living life richly, but he diverges in certain aspects of loyalty to male companions and in the fact that he is not truly a man.

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