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Santiago, in The Old Man and the Sea

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    How does Santiago, in The Old Man and the Sea, exemplify characteristics of Hemingway’s “Code Hero”?

                Ernest Hemingway defined the Code Hero as someone who lives correctly throughout his life, wherein he follows the ideals of honor, courage and endurance in the world, no matter how chaotic the world he lives in is, thus resulting to a life which is often stressful and most of the times painful. Hemingway’s code hero is someone who measures himself by how well he handles the difficult instances that life throws at him, testing him at almost every moment of it. Eventually, the Code Hero will just lose, because he is just a man, a mere mortal. But it does not matter, because the true measure would be on how he faces his death ( Santiago, the lead character of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is a great example of a Code Hero, because despite his misfortunes, he continued to face life the way he knows it, and despite the fact that his rewards were not that sweet, he chose to continue to live the life on his own terms.

                Santiago is a great example of what a code hero is. Despite his age, he still pursues the life of a sailor, and continues to do so despite the fact that he is too old for that kind of job. He has the courage to face the harsh realities of life, especially in his age. There were times where he wasn’t able to catch any fish, but he’s courageous enough to venture on to deeper seas just to prove that he can still catch fish. As a code hero, he handled this difficult situation by deciding to go far out into the Gulf, where for a man his age, should be a great ordeal (Hemingway).

    He was able to catch himself one big fish, but he has to battle against it because of its enormous size. He is a person with great discipline, being able to withstand days and nights without letting the fish go. Finally, the fish grew tired and he was able to slay it with his harpoon. He is also a man with great skill, as he was able to defend his catch from attacking sharks. He was able to slay some of them with the use of a harpoon, and later, of an improvised tool composed of his oar and his knife. Despite this, his catch was already greatly diminished, leaving him only the head and some parts of the shoulder.

    Santiago’s actions really prove that he was a code hero. He suffered so much but he was able to prove that he can still catch fish. Despite the fact that he went home with nothing but bones of the fish, he still proved that age was not a measure of how a person should be. He is an individualist and free-willed, a typical characteristic of a Code Hero (“The Hemingway Code Hero”). He sailed out to the gulf alone, without any fear or regret. His actions also showed that he faced death by being able to fend of the attacking sharks, being able to slay them, despite the fact that they are eating away his catch. His struggles are all manifestations of him being a code hero. In the end, he went home with nothing, but that’s not the true measure. What matters most is that he was able to face his fears and was able to prove not only to himself but also to others how good a fisherman he is (Hemingway).

    Santiago, despite his age was full of courage, discipline, and skill. He is also adventurous, strong-willed, and individualistic. His actions showed in the story showed that he is really a code hero, an extraordinary person not because he is powerful, charismatic, and such, but because he suffers a great deal of pain and hardship all throughout his life yet he never gives up, never loses hope.

    Works Cited:

    “The Hemingway Code Hero”.  2007. June 28 2008. <>.

    Hemingway, Ernest. “The Old Man and the Sea”.  1952.  Charles Scribner’s Sons. June 28 2008. <>. “Characteristics of Hemingway’s Code Hero”.  2007. June 28 2008. <>.


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