Hemingway's "Code Hero"
Hemingway's most typical heroes are men whose lives are guided by a rigid inner discipline. Sometimes they do things that are conventionally "unethical," but they are always motivated by their own consciousness or what is right and wrong. When, as sometimes happens, they violate this private code, they feel "rotten," like Brett Ashley of The Sun Also Rises. In Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway summed up this ethic with: "so far, about morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after..."

Hemingway's "Code Hero" Elements:
  • The universe is meaningless and/or hostile to humankind
  • Man cannot deal with the chaos of meaninglessness, so he creates meaning in life
  • Meaning can be made in meaningful "contests" with a worthy adversary where the hero must play fair, be precise, and go without complaint
  • In the final outcome, winning is impossible and consequently doesn't matter really; only the heroism is of importance
  • Often, another person, usually weak, learns from the code hero
  • The hero is a man of action who seeks life on his own terms
    • The hero rejects death
    • The hero pits himself against death to live on the edge
    • The hero is physically and/or psychologically wounded
    • The hero unemotional, stoic, and/or outwardly endures pain
    • The hero is not tied to any person
    • The hero must do everything well
    • The hero seeks out sensations (good whiskey, food, women)
    • The hero has "grace under pressure" (he acts bravely)
    • The hero rejects fakery or pretentiousness
    • The hero is a disillusioned person


A great example of a Code Hero that you may be more familiar with is James Bond. This man is unphased when it comes to action and enjoys the thrill and pleasure of life(Women, fine cars, and pricey everything).

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