Code Hero Essay

It is then that the Hemingway man shows the coolness, the grace, the courage, the discipline which have prompted the idea of grace under pressure.

The man who never encounters death, who never faces any danger at all, this man has not yet been tested; we don't know whether he will withstand the pressures, whether he will prove to be a true Hemingway man.

In the presence of death, then, man can discover his own sense of being, his own potentiality.

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Thus in the short story "The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber," at the age of thirty-five Francis himself had never tested his courage. But on a subsequent test he stood up and proved himself to be a true, good Hemingway hero.

It is thus only by testing, by coming into confrontation with something that is dangerous that man lives with this intensity.But — and this is the significant point — man can never act in a cowardly way.He must not show that he is afraid or trembling or frightened in the presence of death.We can extend this idea further by saying that, if man wishes to live, he lives most intensely sometimes when he is in the direct presence of death.This will at times bring out man's most innate qualities, test his manhood, will contribute then an intensity, a vivacity to the life that he is at present leading, and it is for this reason that Hemingway often places his characters either in war, in bullfighting rings, or on the plains of Africa where he must face an animal determined to kill him.One might express it in other terms by saying that the Hemingway man must have fear of death, but he must not be afraid to die.By fear we mean that he must have the intellectual realization that death is the end of all things and as such must constantly be avoided in one way or another.Hemingway's characters first attracted attention because they did drink a lot and did have many love affairs. In its most elementary sense, if man is to face total oblivion at his death, there is nothing then to do but enjoy as many of the physical pleasures as possible during this life. With this view in mind it might seem strange then to the casual or superficial reader that the Hemingway code hero will often be placed in an encounter with death, or that the Hemingway hero will choose often to confront death.Thus the Hemingway man will drink, he will make love, he will enjoy food, he will enjoy all sensuous appetites — all the sensuous pleasures that are possible. The bullfighters, the wild game hunters — characters like these are in constant confrontation with death.For example, we need only to recall small insignificant scenes in Hemingway works, such as in A Farewell to Arms, when in the midst of the battle Frederick Henry and his two ambulance drivers sit down in the middle of the battlefield amid all of the destruction and thoroughly devote themselves to relishing, enjoying, savoring every taste of their macaroni, cheese, and bottle of mediocre wine. From this we derive then the idea of grace under pressure.Returning to the primary consideration, that is, that death is the end of all things, it then becomes the duty and the obligation of the Hemingway hero to avoid death at almost all cost. This concept is one according to which the character must act in a way that is acceptable when he is faced with the fact of death.


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