The traits of character which come to one’s mind when someone mentions the words “Hemingway’s code hero” are bravery, intelligence and honesty. “Hemingway’s code hero” refers to the several typical characters from the books written by this author. A bright example of such personage is Santiago from the novel The Old Man and the Sea.
Santiago is the main character of the novel. He is an old Cuban fisherman who has recently been having extremely bad luck, for he hasn’t caught a single fish in the course of eighty four days. This man for certain possesses all the characteristic features of the Hemingway’s code hero. Besides the bravery and honesty which will be discussed later in the course of this paper, he also possesses such traits as intelligence and endurance. He has enough spirit to speak about his bad luck with a sort of irony and hope for the better: “Eighty-five is a lucky number”, the old man said.”(Hemingway, 6) Santiago is a hard-working man who has been making his living by catching fish his whole life. The fishing has been always robbing him of health and strength, but Santiago shows great courage, endurance and patience when musing on his life-time occupation in the following lines: “All my life the early sun has hurt my eyes, he thought. Yet they are still good. In the evening I can still look straight into it without getting the blackness. It has more force in the evening too. But in the morning it is painful”. (Hemingway, 12)
Such a typical for Hemingway’s code hero trait of character as bravery was not something that Santiago lacked either. His struggle with the huge fish is the main theme of the novel. The old man showed a lot of bravery and courage first only when he had decided to catch that fish, but also when his boat was dragged far away from the shore by the strong creature. It is worth mentioning that Santiago being dragged in the sea did not happen because of his imprudence, but was a conscious choice that indicated resolution and courage of the old man. His following thought about the fish prove that: “His choice had been to stay in the deep dark water far out beyond all snares and traps and treacheries. My choice was to find him beyond all people.”(Hemingway, 17) The old man holds on to the line and does not let the fish loose, despite he understands that it can easy sink the boat if it tries to dive down deep. He does not give up and says the following: “Fish”, he said softly, aloud, “I’ll stay with you until I am dead.” (Hemingway, 18)
As for the honesty – there can hardly be anyone who would say that Santiago is a dishonest man. This character makes an impression of the man with fairly strong moral principles who was able to face difficulties and cope with them. It seems so that it was not even really important for him to catch that fish for food, he rather wanted to prove himself that he was strong enough to finish what he had started. He is very demanding towards himself and quickly pulls himself together after a sudden regret that he does not have a boy to help him came to his mind: “But you haven’t got the boy, he thought. You have only yourself and you had better work back to the last line now, in the dark or not in the dark.”(Hemingway, 18) Even though he had to endure physical pain from the line which was damaging his hands severely while the fish was trying to let loose, he did not give up. A Cuban fisherman can hardly be a man of wide knowledge, so apart from fishing Santiago must have had very few interests in life. But to what he did well he was really devoted. Here is what he thinks about fishing: “That was the thing I was born for” (Hemingway, 17). That is this man was honest with himself in the first place, for even being alone in the sea he knew that he had to struggle or die, but never to give in.
As it comes from all that was discussed in this paper Santiago from “The Old Man and the Sea” seems to answer all the major characteristics of the Hemingway’s code hero. This honest, brave, hard-working and courageous man is a bright example of the type of hero one can often come across in Hemingway’s novels.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea.Ismaning: Max HueberVerlag, 2003. Print.