Hemingway Code Hero Essay


Almost omnipresent in each of Hemingway’s works, the central characters of the story possess an all enduring human, preferably a man, who strives to correctly, who follows the ideals of honor and courage, perseverance and endurance in a world that is extremely disorganized, most stressful, and plainly morbid and painful.

What is Hemingway’s Code Hero in Literature?

Hemingway’s critics have labeled such an omnipotent bundle of values in the characters as “Code Hero”. A compass code through which the characters live up to against all oddities in his novel.

To understand more about the concept of Hemingway’s Code Hero, we have to understand the time and context of his writing, i.e. a historical interpretation of his novels.

The Impact of World War 1 on Hemingway’s Writings

Hemingway is writing in the 1920s, Post World War I era when the world was reeled under bloody massacre because of the differences in several regional, political and capitalist chauvinists of the time.

When people of the world and especially American modern state were in a state of disillusionment with brought about by the war, Hemingway created the concept of a hero who has abandoned the old traditional values of Christianity while forming new values for himself which are although similar to Christianity yet still very far from employing the word – Christian ideals, for the old values and Christian ethical systems didn’t stop men from barbarous monstrosity inflicting upon fellow human beings.

So, Hemingway pondered over some principles which were based upon a sense of order and discipline which would endure in all circumstances. 

What are the Rules of the Code Hero?

Hemingway’s hero has an evolved idea of the world and its functions. The action of key heroes is based on the concept of Death. The idea of death doesn’t scare the characters as Christian values do.

They believe in living – a life whilst savoring all the joy and sorrows without the idea of a hereafter, such as the character Santiago lives in his magnum opus, The Old Man and The Sea.

Hemingway’s Code Hero in Old Man and the Sea

Critics have termed Santiago including other characters from other novels as a Code Hero because although he is living a difficult life, his faith remains unshaken; his patience intact; his hope soaring higher than ever.

He is not shown as a Christian person yet he is brimming up with the Hemingway-ian principles of order and discipline. He lives in abject poverty but has always some food and shelling to spare for his young mate who helps him in fishing.

He is a compassionate old man yet with invincible faith of catching a fish even after going without a catch for 84 consecutive days. And yet he doesn’t cry when the large fish which he fought so hard while catching gets eaten away by other fishes when bringing it ashore.

And that’s exactly what the contemporary general readers liked about Hemingway’s characters. His way of living in the present. Not letting his past days to affect his spirit. 

Hemingway Code Hero Characteristics

  1. Hemingway’s Code Hero exhibits certain characteristics among the heroes. Firstly, the Code Hero believes in action rather than words.
  2. He is steadfast in every action that he is performing in, neither he discusses many of his heroic actions to anyone as Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea.
  3. He doesn’t exhibit his emotions to others as the belief that showing emotions is a sign of weakness surrounds his psyche.
  4. The Code Hero also believes in discipline and structured life even in the middle of chaos and crises.
  5. His firm stand over every part of his personality is what makes Hemingway’s character a Code Hero.