Hemingway Hero Code Essay

Heroes may not all come with a cape and a silly mask, some may come in just the way they remain loyal, or in other cases, it might be how they meander through life, accepting what is given to them, much like in Ernest Hemingway’s works. In all Hemingway novels and seen in the study of Hemingway works, is the concept of this Hemingway hero, known more now as Hemingway's hero code.

Which was not of Hemingway's creation or specific criteria of his writing, but instead something people have observed in his writing. Once as Hemingway’s works were readily accepted by the public it became clear that there was a distinct new trait of main characters in his short stories. These stories gave depictions of the man’s man. One that drank booze, went after lovers any time of the day, one that took all the worth out of life, one who enjoyed hunting, and the more manly aspects of life without going through any hardships with any regret or any emotional reaction. 

The Old Man and the Sea

Hemingway's Hero Code can be seen in Ernest Hemingway's writing through almost all his pieces, but more specifically seen through traits of the hero code, of no self-pity, getting worth from life, and appreciating deep beauty and purity  in The Old Man and the Sea and “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”

In The Old Man and the Sea, The main character, an old fisherman named Santiago, is seen going throughout a battle with a fish after not having caught one fish in 87 days. Throughout the course of this ongoing fish versus fisherman battle, the reader is hit in the very beginning with a key point of the Hemingway's Hero Code of No Self Pity. On the very first page, Hemingway writes, “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.

In the first forty days, a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish, the boy’s parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky,” off the bat, Santiago is unbothered by his situation. Though he is without fish for 87 days and without the boy, he shows no grievance of this and continues on to fish, as well as speak little of his problems. 

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

This correlates well to the second waiter who isn’t hurrying to leave, in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.” a short story about how a waiter ponders on about the lack of meaning of life while also still finding it nothing to pity to be upset about either. As Hemingway writes “Now, without thinking further, he would go home to his room. He would lie in the bed and finally, with daylight, he would go to sleep. After all, he said to himself, it's probably only insomnia. Many must have it.” The man shows no sign of distress of his lack of sleep, normalizing it, the same way Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea, worry nothing about the lack of fish he is obtaining. 

With finding nothing to be found sad about in the waiter’s lack of sleep in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”, or lack of fish, for Santiago, both men take what is given to them in life for all it’s worth to focus again not on the bad things of life but respect what is given to them.. Which is another trait in the Hemingway Hero Code, Believe one must get his money’s worth of life. Santiago shows his money’s worth from life on page 27 when Hemingway quotes, “The old man drank his coffee slowly. It was all he would have all day and he knew that he should take it. For a long time now eating had bored him and he never carried a lunch.

He had a bottle of water in the bow of the skiff and that was all he needed for the day.” Santiago, knowing this is the only coffee he is going to get, he is going to take what he has and savor it. It’s not often that he gets coffee due to his circumstances of lack of fish to sell, so he’s taking what life is offering him. This is similar to the older waiter in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” When he sympathized with the old man in the story that drank at the cafe on pages 3 and 4.

The younger of the waiters don’t value what he has and is in a rush to see his wife, whereas the older one finds peace in a clean, well-lighted place with no music. He accepts his job and what he has, not caring if they stay late, as he also respects what it does for others. It’s the only nice place he’s got as well, given his insomnia, but knowing he has to close eventually, he too savors the time there as the old man does in The Old Man and the Sea. Both easily fall under getting their money's worth from life, the same way that no pity is also seen in the two stories. Which altogether ties in two factors seen in both stories from the Hemingway hero code, and not just things that are just a coincidence.


In conclusion, it is seen that In a majority of Hemingway’s works, his heroes, despite lack of cape, spandex, tights and bold classic hero descriptions such as those, still have the same bold outlining factors making them known to be a certain type of hero: A Hemingway Hero. They may not all have capes, but when it comes to giving his characters a line of thought and a personality, his characters are all laid out to be a man of practically pure testosterone.

They are the man’s man, the man that goes after affair after affair with no regret. They are the man that can not be controlled by anyone other himself. Thus following the outlines of the Hemingway Code almost perfectly, despite having no intention to follow a said checklist with his work. Nevertheless,  It is without a doubt, given the proof of ongoing traits of having no self-pity, and getting all of life’s worth, in the novella The Old Man and the Sea and short stories “A Clean, Well Lighted Place,” and “The Undefeated,” as well as other traits sprawled out on the Hemingway Hero Code list, that Ernest Hemingway did have a set criteria of the heroes and characters that he wrote. It was only a matter of time that it would all be categorized into what is known very well today as, The Hemingway’s Hero Code. 



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