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The Old Man And The Sea Case sample essay


Ernest Hemingway’s stories are said to be woven around personal experiences and code heroes who abide by strict moral rules and enjoying a simulating surroundings. The Code Hero in The Old Man and the Sea is typified by Santiago who is basically a free-spirited man. Hemingway’s Code Hero depicts a man who is able to look for solutions no matter what happens.

Some readers may think that the story is about man’s battle against the natural world. However, it is more the story of man’s real position within nature. It is seen how Santiago and the marlin possess qualities such as honor and courage which is subject to the same eternal law that they either must kill or be killed. One sees how the world seems to be full of predators, ready to grab another victim. (Themes, Motifs, Symbols).

The Code Hero of Hemingway

Repeated all throughout the book is the humane nature of man. The humane side shows pains, struggles, strife, and discomforts. It also shows loneliness and solitude. It also shows the comic and the tragic part of the life of the old man. Yet it also shows man with dignity, humor, courage and inspiration, as well as praises in this Hemingway classic.

Ernest Hemingway depicts Santiago, the main character in The Old Man and the Sea as its code hero. The Code Hero measures himself by how well they are able to respond to the difficult situations of life. Yet the Code Hero will lose in the end because man is all mortal, but man’s response to death is what is seen by all. The Code also has its foundation in “Nada,” a Spanish word meaning nothing. Relevant to this is the implication that there is no after life. Thus, the Code Hero is someone who is independent and looking at life in a fun and light way. Although he believes in the ideals of courage and honor he has his own set of morals and principles based on his beliefs in honor, courage and endurance.

A code hero never shows emotions; showing emotions and having a commitment to women shows weakness. Qualities such as bravery, adventuresome and travel also define the Code Hero. In this phrase, “code” means a set of rules or guidelines for conduct. In Hemingway’s code, the principal ideals are honor, courage, and endurance in a life of stress, misfortune, and pain.

Often in Hemingway’s stories, the hero’s world is violent and disorderly; moreover, the violence and disorder seem to win. The “code” dictates that the man acts with honor and dignity in the midst of a seemingly failed task. When he does that, he now is considered a man who is up to whatever challenge befalls him. He is not given to excuses or blames and takes the responsibility for a task’s failure or success.

Santiago is demonstrated not to like the dark for this is the symbol of death. It actually is something that is fearful for him. It seems that the rite of manhood for the Code Hero is how he faces death. But that is not the end of it. He has to continue his struggles and consistently prove himself in order to retain his manhood.

Hemingway’s code hero is a man’s man. He is not like the stereotyped of a hero that has been defined in many ways. The code hero lives a normal life with honor and pride. He has respect for all people himself. He regards everyone with respect and dignity. The typical hero here, especially referring to Santiago, must always fight against the “Nada” and he must not give up so that he can enjoy life to the fullest.

After relentlessly fishing for days without any catch, Santiago is able to catch a marlin. But this takes him further as he engages in a battle that brings him far from the familiar surroundings that he is familiar with. Thus, the picture of uncertainty finds him struggling even more as he is seen struggling with every bit of his courage just to continue holding on despite the suffering on his physical body that he needs to endure. He refuses to give up. All these depict the real code hero that is in Hemingway’s novel. He only has a bottle of water s he is pulled continuously by his catch. The marlin is hooked on a line that stretches across his back, burning and even piercing his skin with extreme pain.

Whatever he is doing, he is creating a whole mood, whether it is a vigorous struggle to hang on or look for another means to survive. In fact, he starts to pay attention to how he is controlling himself, to the many ways he is holding back from freely and fully living. He is able to discover the many ways that he stops himself from moving and flowing with his feelings and surroundings. He is constricting and tightening in more ways than one but that only strengthens him no end. He is aware of his life. It is the source of his survival. His only limit is his lack of awareness, which could mean his end.

The world he knows exists for him through his awareness. He is able to develop a greater sensibility by developing his awareness. Awareness is not the same as knowledge. Awareness occurs in the present, whereas knowledge is a file cabinet of information one learns in the past. Santiago endures a big struggle with the large marlin but loses the fish to the sharks as he goes back to the land.

However, despite this loss, his spirit is not defeated at all. In the face of tragedy, he knows that he is able to conquer the sea and the challenges it poses. It no longer matters if he brought home the marlin. The days he experienced out at sea give him insights that will be valuable as he returns back home. These challenges are what makes him strong and q code hero to all his family and friends. The incident does not blind himself to the many other blessings in his life. He is able to accept his plight wholly.


In sum, awareness and acceptance go hand in hand. Full awareness is seeing what is. Judging people and things as “bad” or even as “right and good” usually gets in the way of awareness. This does not happen to Santiago. He is aware of everything that happens to him out at sea. A usual way that he expands his awareness is to assume that he is not so aware of what he does. When he assumes that he already knows himself, he closes himself to discovering anything except what he already thinks he knows. Santiago indulges in a fight against his own thoughts too, and emerges a winner nevertheless.


Characteristics of Hemingway’s Code of Hero. Accessed June 11, 2008 at:

Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. Scribner (May 5, 1995)

Themes, Motifs, Symbols. The Old Man and the Sea. Accessed June 11, 2008 at:

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