Ernest Hemingway Research Paper
His writing builds upon the masterful usage of “short, simple words and short, simple sentences” (Wagner, 3) to create clear and easy to understand pieces of art, so that even the simple everyday reader can enjoy his art. One may even say that “no other novelist … [has] had an equivalent influence on the prose” of today’s modern writing (Young, 39). Naturally, while supporters exist, so do the debunkers. They say that Hemingway’s prose “is too limited … [making his] characters mute, insensitive, uncomplicated men (Weeks, 1)” in society.
The simplicity of his writing strips away the information that a reader may interpret, which fuels the debate that Hemingway utilizes no creativity in his writings; everything simply presents itself as it truly represents. From the very first time Hemingway embarked on his historic writing journey, he exhibits through his written works and actions how a “hero” should conduct himself/herself. Hemingway often partook in hunting, fishing, and could be seen attending Spanish bullfights. Hemingway uses these experiences, and the ones he gained from World War II to enhance his already superb writing.
Ernest Hemingway Research Paper Essay Example
Admirers often praise Hemingway for how he believes a man should live his life, and how he also emulates this belief in his characters by “tying the life of the hero to [Hemingway himself]” (Young, 41). These lauders praise Hemingway on his code hero – “a man who lives correctly, following the ideals of honor, courage and endurance in a world Wang 3 that is sometimes chaotic, often stressful, and always painful”(Weeks, 62). However, there are of course many people who criticize Hemingway. The infamous Zelda Fitzgerald once called Hemingway “a large phony” (Lynn, 9) in the way he portrays himself to the world.
This led the way for further criticism coming from all paths of the literary world. People claim that “[Hemingway’s] work was shallow and without genuine feeling” (Lynn. 9) and lacks honesty. Hemingway’s female critics deem his portrayal of woman as sexist. Although a few notable exceptions exist, for the most part, Hemingway portrays woman as either manhood-destroying fiends or objects of sexual desire. Detractors of Hemingway will also say that Hemingway’s success comes from fortuitous circumstances, not from his literary genius.
Hemingway wrote a good portion of his short stories and novels during the most prosperous years of America, 1924- 1929, where people had the money to buy luxuries such as books. In addition, Hemingway also wrote and published in Paris, where many influential avant garde critics and analysts gave him favorable reviews. Furthermore, Hemingway’s critics would debunk Hemingway’s code hero. They accuse Hemingway of portraying his code heroes as stoic and brave, only as an attempt to show something about him that did not exist, his manhood.
Despite these critics though, Hemingway’s code hero proudly resonates today. People today still point out Hemingway’s hero as the correct way to live one’s life. However, it should be noted that attaining this high Wang 4 standard of moral living does not simply happen over night, but rather, over long periods of struggle. Hemingway writes about some characters born innate with the code hero principle, and some who must struggle to achieve it. The characters all appear wounded, not only physically, but mentally as well.
They have inner conflicts in themselves that they must defeat; whether that involves insecurity, caitiffness, or hallucinogens, the character suffers honorably to defeat these obstacles. Most importantly, Hemingway’s “heroes are not defeated except upon their own terms” (Warren, 55); what matters to them “is the stoic endurance, … the stiff upper lip” (Warren, 55) which represents victory in their own ways. Hemingway then masterfully shows how these principles affect the character’s lives in a positive light.
Santiago, the protagonist of The Old Man and The Sea, shows how the code hero principles help him gain peace despite his failure to catch the large fish. The struggle may also be arduous and testing, as shown in The Nick Adams Stories. We the audience see Nick Adams, the protagonist and code hero, evolve from a naive child in the beginning of the story, all the way to a fully realized code hero at the end. Hemingway maps Adam’s journey as one with both blessings and hardships; however, in the end, these learned principles give Adams peace and understanding with his life.
These heroes all face different forms of defeat or death; however in the end, they “all manage to salvage something” (Warren, 35) out of these excruciating circumstances. Ernest Hemingway utilizes Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea as a fully developed code hero and Nick Adams Wang 5 from The Nick Adams Stories as a developing code hero to show that following the code hero principles will lead to a honorable life, with a fruitful outcome. Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea lives his life with honor, which leads to a fruitful gain. Before beginning, we first must understand what “honorable” truly means.
Even before Santiago’s epic battle with the fish, he holds honor as an esteemed principle. Santiago has not caught a fish in 87 days, leaving him with no food or an income to purchase food; however, he still refuses to plead. For “first [one] borrows, then [one] begs” (Hemingway, 18) which brings shame onto his name. This shows how Santiago would rather suffer the pains of hunger than to beg, for demoralizing oneself just for pleasure certainly does not count as a code hero trait. Santiago also has much respect for the nature and other animals living in it.
When Santiago combats the fish for superiority, he lets the fish know that he “loves [the fish] and respects [the fish] very much; [however,] he will kill [the fish at] the end of the day” (Hemingway, 43), unless defeated by circumstances not under his control. Hemingway uses the love and admiration that Santiago has for the fish to show how even though the fish at that point represents Santiago’s enemy, he still respects the fish for being strong. In the end, the epic battle’s climax reaches the point where “the fish is [Santiago’s] friend too [because of] his behavior and his great dignity” (Hemingway, 50) that the fish shows.
Respect of the opponent remains a strong core of the Hemingway traits. Wang 6 One can argue that two Code Heroes exist here. Even though Hemingway intends for Santiago to be the main Code Hero, Hemingway also describes the fish in such a way that the reader admires the fish’s honor as well. The two counter parts ferociously battle for multiple days and nights; each faction refuses “to change his course” (Hemingway 46) and admit defeat. The connection between the two actually grows so strong that in the end, neither “can do nothing with [the either]” (Hemingway 47).
This truly represents the Hemingway hero code in that the hero refuses “to be defeated except upon [his] terms” (Weeks, 55); they will literally fight until the death, which occurs here when Santiago manages to kill the fish after the fish commits the mistake of jumping out of the water. Overall, all these displayed honorable aspects benefit Santiago in the end. While Santiago does not physically catch the fish, per say, he did however catch, or rather hold onto something of greater a value; this being his undeniable honor.
Furthermore, one must remember the process of which Santiago captures the fish. Santiago does not cheat nor do anything that would give him a competitive advantage over the fish. He respects nature, and the fairness one should have while combating it. Specifically, Santiago respects his opponent, the fish, by staying true to the code. Here, only toughness and courage matter in their fight: no elaborate fishing equipment, no outside help from the boy, no interference from another fish. While the assembly of
sharks ripe away at Santiago’s hard caught friend, Santiago relentlessly fights back to protect his brother; even though, Santiago Wang 7 knows eventually the sharks will have their way and eat the flesh of the “strong unseen fish” (Hemingway, 48). Although Santiago’s hands have numerous cuts digging deep into his flesh, he still defends the fish, as the honor in him would not have him do anything differently. When Santiago arrives back on the shore, the other fisherman marvel at the size of carcass of the fish, “for it is the largest fish they have every seen” (Hemingway 91) in their lives.
Santiago still takes the time and effort to drag back the bones, even though it can bring him no monetary value, as the fish no longer has flesh. The fisherman in the very end still gain much respect for Santiago, despite his failure to completely preserve the fish; however, the carcass itself represents the honor of Santiago, and the way he believes one should conduct themselves and persevere through even chaotic, painful, and stressful situations. Furthermore, Santiago shows great courage, which also benefits him in the end of the novel. Santiago’s self-confidence fuels his courage.
Santiago knows “that [he] could beat anyone if [he] wanted to badly enough” (Hemingway45), he simply chooses whether he wishes to or not. His 24 plus hour arm wrestling match proves this as he, the underdog, defeated the heavily favored dark man, in which no one afterwards would want to arm wrestle Santiago anymore. This same self-confidence and toughness present itself throughout his entire battle with the fish, Santiago deals with multiple pains and injuries. His “blood ran down his cheek” (Hemingway, 52) onto “the cramped hand” (Hemingway 58) which he steadfastly holds onto the fish.
Despite all these difficult physical unconformities, Santiago continues to fight the good Wang 8 fight; he ignores all these pains and continues to fish, displaying great courage on his part. Ernest Hemingway strictly believes that “pain does not matter to a man” (Hemingway 84) and he shows this through the actions of Santiago. The reader here winces at all the scars that Santiago has, however keep in mind that these scars carry little importance or play much of a factor in Santiago’s battle; they do however, serve as reminders to Santiago of his past victories.
The arm-wrestling matches, the past successful expenditures for fishing, these prior experiences drive on and help motivate Santiago, not his scars and pains. Even though Santiago never manages to bring in the fish in its full glory, “what counts is how [Santiago] conduct[s] [himself] while … being destroyed” (Young, 45) by the process of catching the fish. Santiago’s brave conduct portrays itself in a true hero, Santiago, will “never accepts a compromise” (DeFalco, 60) under any circumstance despite the pain.
In the end though, Santiago can rest in peace knowing that his courage prevails throughout the entire journey. When Santiago finally returns home to the shores of Cuba, he sleeps for many hours, even having dreams about his prized catch. After Santiago awakens from this dream, he has no regrets about the loss of his fish to the sharks, for he immediately tells the boy to prepare the sails again. If Santiago did not show the courage he did when battling the sharks and while hunting the fish, one may safely assume he would have never caught the fish, which thus means he would not have been content with his journey.
Wang 9 Santiago also displays unmatched endurance, which helps him capture the fish and bring contentment. In the beginning, Hemingway tells us that Santiago “was salao, which is the worst from of unlucky” (Hemingway, 9) since he went through a drought of 87 days without capturing the fish. Despite his “salaoness”, Santiago still goes out everyday to fish, displaying his determination and his will for not giving up despite the depressing circumstances. Santiago “has a turtles heart … [which] will beat for hours after he has been cut up and hutched” (Hemingway, 37), enduring many physical abuses.
The reader must remember that Santiago imposes this pain upon himself! He can freely release the fish net whenever he wants to, yet he chooses to hold on for the long hours: Santiago eats his semi-rotten fish with the net in his hand, sleeps with the net in his hand, resulting in cramped one filled with bloody scars. Santiago knows “[he] can do [the fishing] as long as he” (Hemingway, 53) wants to; these physical limitations do not affect him. Santiago successfully shows “what a man can do and what a man endures” (Hemingway, 66) will lead to contentment.
In the end, after his strong showing of endurance, Santiago returns home tired, but safe. Endurance teaches Santiago to never give up, despite setbacks. Santiago encounters many set backs on his journey. The lack of fresh food, the cut hands, the sleep deprivation, all these factors attempt to derail Santiago from capturing the fish, in the end though, they all fail as Santiago’s endurance prevails. Wang 10 In contrast with Santiago, Nick Adams represents a character that develops gradually into a code hero.
We may think of Nick as the “quintessential Hemingway Hero” (Schafer, 12), for Nick changes greatly from the first short to the last short story. Hemingway actually utilizes Nick to represent his own life; the plot and the sequence of the stories parallel Hemingway’s experiences. Hemingway uses his experiences from a broken relationship, the war, and the outdoors life to help create Nick Adams. Just like Hemingway, Nick also takes time to develop into a code hero; in order to properly understand Nick Adams, we first must understand why he starts out so undeveloped.
One day Nick’s father, a doctor, took him on a trip to a nearby Indian camp to help a woman give birth. Nick watches his father do “a Caesarian with a jackknife and sewing it up with a nine-foot, tapper gut leaders” (Indian Camp 19). Naturally, being a young child, Nick “did not want to watch see what his father was doing … for his curiosity had left him” (Indian Camp, 19) half way through the Caesarian. Furthermore, moments later, Nick witnesses the suicide of the woman’s husband “who couldn’t stand things” (Indian Camp, 19), mainly the loud painful screams of his wife.
While Hemingway writes these two gruesome passages, he places more of an emphasis on young innocent Nick’s reaction, rather than the actual surgery or suicide. Hemingway “is more interested in their effect on a little boy who witnessed them” (Young, 40-41) for they turn Nick “later on [into] a badly scarred and nervous young man” (Young, 41); most certainly not a Code Hero. On the way home after these two Wang 11 tragedies, Nick “felt quite sure that he would never die” (Indian Camp, 21), nor does he want to.
These experiences harm Nick so much that he no longer wishes to see death because of the gruesome consequences. Nick can no longer accept or endure pain without behaving in a non-code hero manner. A code hero must always handle the stresses that may occur spontaneously or prearranged in life, not react in a fearful or cowardly manner. Nick now spends the rest of his life learning the principles of the code hero. In Now I Lay Me, the reader can see the fear, which stems from the childhood trauma. Lying in a heavily maligned battle zone, Nick attempts to try and sleep, despite all the warfare going around him.
However, “he did not want to sleep” (Now I Lay Me, 144) for fear of death. Nick believes “that if [he] ever shut [his] eyes in the dark… and let [himself] go, [his] soul would go out of [his] body (Now I Lay Me, 144) and perish. A trait of a code hero states that one must handle the daily stresses of life, which certainly involves the possibility of death in a warfare zone. His experiences as a child temper with his courage, an important Hemingway trait. Nick Adams lacks courage in the beginning of the novel, however later on learns the meaning of this important Hemingway hero trait.
As a young child, Nick did not have the trait of courage, as evident when “Nick did not watch” (Hemingway 19) the Caesarian operation. This also extends later on in his life when he attempts to deal with his broken relationship with Marjorie. Nick thought that “love was Wang 12 frightening” (Hemingway 218) so he ends the relationship with Marjorie, not because their relationship was wrong or ill fitted, but rather because Nick was scared of relationships. He “escape[s] society rule’s about sexual behavior” (Comely 70), in favor of his own rules which hold much more simplicity.
Nick seeks “a pristine boyhood paradise free from the responsibility of adult, heterosexual relationships” (Strychacz) that everyone must eventually encounter. Even Nick himself does not have a clear logical reason on the breakup. He tells Bill that “[he] does not know why it was… [He] couldn’t help it” (Hemingway 214), thus he ends the relationship. Nick essentially does not want to deal with the letdowns, the commitment, the sacrifices that a relationship requires. However, one may also argue that while ending his relationship with Marjorie shows a lack of courage, it also symbolizes a sign of developing honor.
Nick realizes he cannot spend a proper amount of time for Marjorie; he realizes his lack of affection for Marjorie cheats her out of a life she dreams. Marjorie can now go elsewhere and seek a relationship, start a family, and have a happier life; rather then, dealing with the lackluster relationship that Nick offers. Nick struggles in “the midst of massive fears and uncertainties” (Gajdusek 37) that breakups bring; however, since Nick grows as a code hero, he manages to effectively handle the breakup and not lament over the sadness.
Wang 13 Nick Adams also lacks honor in the beginning of the novel, but later on learns the meaning of this important Hemingway trait. Nick begins his development of honor early on in his childhood. A few months after Nick witnesses the Caesarian operation, we see “Nick sitting with his back against a tree reading a book” (Hemingway 27). Here Nick begins his development of honor; he begins to expand his knowledge about the world and thus in the process gains wisdom and honor. Later on in his life, Nick encounters a former boxing champion.
When the Boxer, Ad Francis, challenges Nick to a fight, Nick politely tells him he “does not want to fight [him]” (The Battler, 48) for Nick can see the scars and abnormities that the Boxer has. The boxer’s “nose was shrunken, his eyes were slits, he had queer-shaped lips… he only had one ear… and [his] face was queerly formed and mutilated” (The Battler, 49-50). Nick can clearly see that the man does not have a clear stable mind; so fighting him can only end poorly for both of them.
This sign of maturity shows Nick’s honor, for no honor certainly exists in fighting a handicapped and mentally unstable man. Nick Adams exemplifies a well-developed trait of endurance as the novel progresses. When Nick embarks on a fishing trip, he traverses through a lot of debris and wildlife to reach his destination. The “trip was hard… he was very tired… and had not eaten since a cup of coffee” (Hemingway 185) in the morning. This small, but yet important description, shows the Wang 14 entire calamity that Nick goes through just to enjoy nature.
Normally, one would not sacrifice so much just to enjoy nature and fishing; however, through the knowledge that Nick gained when he still read under his tree, he realizes the importance of nature. Nick displays great endurance just to enjoy nature. In the last short story, Fathers and Sons, all the traits of a Hemingway hero simply seem to tie up for Nick as he finds contentment and peace with his life. Now with his own son quietly sleeping on his nap, Nick thinks back on his relationship with his father. Thinking back on the positives such as fishing and hunting, Nick also remembers the negative advice that his father gave him.
His repulsive way of describing sex stuns Nick and the readers to the point where Nick believes that his father “died in a trap that he had helped set” (Hemingway 370) by himself through his foolish ways. Nick also remembers when his father cruelly punishes him by locking himself in a shed for a long period of time. Nick’s son suddenly wakes up and asks Nick unexpectantly about Dr. Adams, his grandfather, and why they have never visited his grave. After a long period of no response, Nick responds that “[they’ll] have to go” (Fathers and Sons, 377). This final act of forgiveness tells us that Nick has finally developed into the code hero.
After years of animosity towards his father, Nick finds it within himself to forgive his father for the sake of his son, which shows the honor that all code heroes have. Nick also displays courage Wang 15 to finally go visit his father again at his grave, this time brining his son. The ability to finally face his father again tells us that Nick has forgiven, and that he can finally find contentment and peace with the rest of his life. Nick now can utilize his own experiences to help his son grow and mature, so that he may one day also have these important code hero traits.
In conclusion, Ernest Hemingway utilizes Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea as a fully developed code hero and Nick Adams from The Nick Adams Stories as a developing code hero to show that following the code hero principles will lead to a honorable life, with a fruitful outcome. While each character certainly deals with different and varied obstacles, in the end, both characters manage to find peace within them. Santiago prepares for another fishing trip, while Nick finally shows his father’s grave to his son. Both characters not only manage to conquer their worldly enemies, but also the enemies they have in themselves.
Santiago pushes aside the fact that the boy, his trusted aid, could not help him with the fish, and he must do so by his own power; Nick must push aside his childhood fears that affect him whenever he faces a trialing circumstance. Even today, Hemingway’s code hero still serves as a model example of a proper way to live one’s life. For me personally, I know that Hemingway’s code hero principles would enhance my life. With the everyday stresses that occur today such as SATs, getting into good college, and track, I feel like some times I fail to manage theses in a way that Hemingway would approve of.
Often times, I fail at keeping my composure, letting my emotions overcome me so that I react in a negative manner. However, looking at Santiago and Nick Adams Wang 16 specifically, I can see the benefits that acting in a code hero like manner would bring. Reading these books and writing this paper has taught me all that can available to me if I “live correctly, following the ideals of honor, courage and endurance in a world that is sometimes chaotic, often stressful, and always painful” (Hemingway).