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Plight of the Code Hero in the Works of Ernest Hemingway

The Plight of the Code Hero in the Works of Ernest Hemingway

In his novels Ernest Hemingway suggests a code of behavior for his characters to follow: one that demands courage in difficult situations, strength in the face of adversity, and grace under pressure. Termed the “code hero,” this character is driven by the principal ideals of honor, courage, and endurance in a life of stress, misfortune, and pain. Despite the hero’s fight against life in this violent and disorderly world, he is rarely the victor. The code that the hero follows demands that he act honorably in this uphill battle and find fulfillment by becoming a man and proving his worth. Hemingway himself lived his life trying to show how strong and unlimited he was, a trait reflected in his novels as his heroes struggle through. They are all martyrs to their cause, suffering but triumphantly ending their lives because they do not falter and show no weakness. Destroyed, they are nevertheless winners because they do not give in. “Success is that old ABC — ability, breaks, and courage” (Luckman n. pag.).

Hemingway’s heroes succeed precisely because of these characteristics. Hemingway’s heroes are not Marvel Heroes; they do not leap over tall buildings in a single bound, nor do they shoot spider webbing from their hands. They traverse life and endure the pain dealt them, surviving with a moral and spiritual, but not material, victory. They are not flat cardboard characters but real people who are heroes because they overcome a problem, not because they have a special ability. The key trait that they have is the retention of their dignity. The code heroes in TheOld Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises, and For Whom the B…

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_____. The Old Man and the Sea. USA: Scribners, 1952.

_____. “Quotations Organized by Topic,” (18 May 1999).

_____. The Sun Also Rises. USA: Scribners, 1926.

Lord Byron. “Quotations Organized by Topic,” (18 May 1999).

Luckman, Charles. “Quotations Organized by Topic,” (18 May 1999).

McConnell, Frank. The Modern Novel in America, Regnery, revised edition,1963, pg. 814. Rpt. In World Literature Criticism.

Detroit: Gale Research, 1992.

“Oscar Wilde.” (18 May 1999).

Shalizi, Cosma. “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” (1 May 1999).

Robert Cohn’s Struggle for Respect in The Sun Also Rises

Robert Cohn’s Struggle for Respect in The Sun Also Rises

Jake Barnes: “You’re not an aficionado?” Spanish waiter: “Me? What are bulls? Animals. Brute animals… A cornada right through the back. For fun-you understand.” (Hemingway, 67) Why does everybody hate Robert Cohn? At the beginning of Hemingway’s novel, The Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes, the story’s point-of-view character, wants us to believe that he has at least some appreciation for Cohn. He relates some of Cohn’s life for us, how at Princeton he was a middle weight boxing champ, how despite his physical prowess he had feelings of “shyness and inferiority…being treated as a Jew,” (Hemingway, 11) his turbulent career as a magazine editor and his failed marriage. It’s easy to begin to feel sorry for this guy. The only mistake he made was falling for Lady Brett Ashley. Cohn’s infatuation with this heartless wench, coupled with the jealousy and competitive nature of the novel’s other bon vivant characters, lead to his disgrace.

Brett Ashley is, from the start, a careless woman. A lady by marriage only, she has affairs with many men, breaks many hearts, and drinks lots of liquor. She wants to be the center of everyone’s attention. She may be physically stunning, but she lacks class and restraint. Like the rest of the novel’s main party, she has a taste for living the good life in disregard of the feelings and actions of others. It seems everyone loves or has loved her, including Jake Barnes. So Robert’s unfortunate attraction to Brett Ashley has already heightened tensions between the male characters.

For a significant portion of the novel, Cohn is defending himself from the threats and name-calling of Mike, the man to whom Brett…

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…on, he posed no great threat to the group and was more a victim of racism than of unrequited love. If his interest in Lady Brett amounted to anything, it was as a target for the jaded sentiments of his “fellow” bon vivants; someone should have clued Cohn in and told him he’d be better off staying in Paris. I suppose these sordid affairs only prove Hemingway’s feelings, as expressed by Bill in the novel: “You’re an expatriate. You’ve lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed by sex. You spend your time talking, not working.” (120) Maybe Robert Cohn, a victim of this ruination, will know better than to waste his time with these dark-hearted dilettantes who hold costly ideas of enjoyment.

Works Cited

Hemingway, Ernest The Sun Also Rises. Scribner Paperbacks: NY, 1997.

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