Ernest Hemingway, the author of The Old Man and the Sea presents unique characters in each of his literature compositions. Referred to as the Hemingway Code Heroes, these characters portray stringently enforced laws of behavior, which allow them to live up to the richness of their lives. Hemingway sets a good illustration of code heroes. These are not people bearing occult powers or people campaigning for truth or justice.
To solve the misconception, Hemingway sets in with his The Old Man and the Sea, featuring Santiago, an aged angler and an epitome of code heroes. Santiago displays many code hero qualities, including the three important code qualities of honor and integrity, grace under pressure, and determination to succeed.
Santiago lives his life with honor and integrity. With this quality, he passes for a code hero as the author illustrates. He is a man who knows well that respect is a two-way traffic and for him to be respected, he ought to respect others in return. However, according to him, it matters less whether he will gain respect by the end of the day.
All he knows is that he bears the obligation to respect people as well as their decisions. Though aged, he enjoys the company of the young boy, Manolin. In one fishing occasion, Manolin tells Santiago, “And the best fisherman is you…No I know others better” (23). This drives home the point that Santiago is a man of honor, not necessarily in the field of fishing, but in life in general.
He deserves a credit as the boy puts it. In his struggle with the fish, Santiago utters words that point out his level of integrity. He respects and loves, not only people, but also animals. ”Fish, I love you and respect you very much…But I will kill you dead before this day ends” (Hemingway 54).
In addition, he uplifts the dignity of all people, despite their differences. He symbolically says that all of them are able to fish to show how he respects their varied capabilities. Building on these deductions, it is inferable that honor and integrity forms part of Santiago’s life.
Santiago displays grace under pressure when he tries to catch the marlin and get it back home. It costs him his time, energy, and a good deal of patience to make the catch. Although he finally makes a catch, it proves hard for him to draw it into the boat. However, he does not give up. His eyes are set only to his goal, a token of grace. In fact, as his hands and fingers ache because of his struggle to pull the marlin, “He rubbed the cramped hand against his trousers and tried to gentle the fingers” (Hemingway 60).
The gentling of the fingers is the sign of grace during the pressing situation of his hands. In another situation, Santiago symbolically graces himself with the words, “But I must have the confidence and I must be worthy of the great DiMaggio who does all things perfectly even with the pain of the bone spur in his heel” (Hemingway 68).
He strives imagining of a day when he will be as great as DiMaggio who is a famous baseball champion. He is his model and therefore, even if pressed by life’s circumstances, like his fishing, he knows that he can pass for a great person. Therefore, the author qualifies in developing the character of grace under pressure as possessed by code heroes like Santiago.
Although Santiago has not caught a fish for a very long time, he sails to the sea every day and is determined to succeed in the catching. Even after sailing far in the sea without making any catch, he never gives up. “Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated” (Hemingway 49). His wide-open and cheerful eyes in his old age show how he is determined to live and not to die.
When he catches the huge marlin fish, it pulls him for three consecutive days and nights but Santiago does not let go of it. In addition, the blood that the fish smears on the seawaters attracts other predators that fight to take the fish from the hands of Santiago. In response, he fights them back killing as many of them as possible.
In the process, he says, “I’ll fight them until I die” (Hemingway 115), words that reveal his determination to succeed in taking the fish off the sea. In his claim, “…a man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated” (Hemingway 103), is no more that a sign of his determination. Therefore, Santiago bears the code hero trait of being determined to succeed.
Santiago has the important code hero traits of honor and integrity, grace under pressure and determination to succeed. Hemingway qualifies in defining a code hero.
In a technical manner, he drives away the prevailing misconception about code heroes. The aged angler carries the day through the way he stands as an illustration of code heroes. Though aged, he stands out as a man of honor and integrity. He owes respect and love to all, whether young or old.
In addition, as an angler and considering the struggles he encounters, he pictures grace in every pressing situation that comes his way. He manifests his determination to succeed when he decides never to let go of the marlin despite the other fish, which try to pull it out of his hands. To sum up, He exemplifies a Hemingway code hero.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2005. Print.