Not a Hero… a Code Hero During the box office hit movie, Spider-Man II, the character of Aunt May said, “I believe there’s a hero in all of us. ” Unfortunately, the famous author Ernest Hemingway did not see it that way at all. This man, who had written A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises, believed that there were certain characteristics that made up the hero, or the code hero as he called it. Hemingway’s code hero was a character who demonstrated three characteristics that included grace under pressure, honor, courage, and endurance, and last but not least need for ritual.
Santiago, Brian Piccolo, and Theodore Roosevelt are all great examples of code heroes. In Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Old Man and the Sea the main character Santiago displays the three main characteristics of a code hero. In this book, Santiago has not caught a fish in eighty five days and is in much need of a break. He finally catches an enormous marlin but to his dismay the fish was eaten by a school of sharks. Later on he goes home and dies from exhaustion in his shack. However the sad story, Santiago was portrayed as one of Ernest Hemingway’s most famous code hero.
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Santiago had much grace under pressure when he and the boy “sat on the Terrace and many of the fishermen made fun of the old man and he was not angry” (Hemingway 11). Santiago is portraying his heroic nature when he ignores the other fisherman and does not let their rude remarks make him angry. Another Hemingway characteristic of a code hero is need for ritual. Santiago portrays the need for ritual while discussing his “famine of fish” with the boy, “do you think we should buy a terminal of the lottery with an 85? Tomorrow is the 85th day” (Hemingway 17).
Santiago is being heroic here by showing that he is not willing to give up fishing and he will keep going until he has caught a massive fish, even if it takes more than 85 days. Finally, the last, but certainly not the least characteristic of a code hero is courage, honor, and/or endurance. Santiago show this characteristic when he is catching the marlin, “the old man dropped the line and put his foot on it and lifted the harpoon as high as he could and drove it down with all his strength, and more strength he just summoned, into the fishes side just behind the great chest fin that rose high in the air to the altitude of the mans chest.
He felt the iron go in and he leaned on it and drove it further and pushed all his weight after it” (Hemingway 93-94). Santiago portrays endurance and perseverance while he was ending the fishes life. All in all, Santiago was one of Ernest Hemingway’s best examples of a code hero. In the amazing movie Brian’s Song, directed by Buzz Kulik, the main character is Brian Piccolo, played professional football for the Chicago Bears. Unfortunately, Brian contracts lung cancer and becomes very ill.
This sad but true story is about one man’s struggle through cancer and the hope that he brought to others, despite his illness. Grace under pressure comes easily to Brian Piccolo when he was trying to fight off the cancer and do it without letting it get the best of him. Brian showed that he was not ready to give up on life, he would fight heroically and not feel pity for himself. Like any other code hero, Brian Piccolo had need for ritual. Piccolo showed this need the way he helped Gayle Sayers (another football player for the Bears team) get his knee back up to par and start playing professional football again.
Brian Piccolo was a caring, compassionate person that could care less about himself and worried more about others around him, which is exactly what a code hero does. Finally, Brian shows great honor when he tells Gayle that he does not want to earn the title of “the best” because his teammate is injured. He wants to earn that title, not gain it from someone else’s bad luck. Piccolo is shown here to be heroic because he does not want to cheat himself; that he wants to receive the title of “the best” by his own hard work. Brian Piccolo was an amazing code hero that even Ernest Hemingway would have loved.
Many people know Teddy Roosevelt as one of our greatest presidents and also one of the greatest heroes of all time, but very little amount of those people take time to realize just how much of a hero Teddy really was. As a great and admirable leader, he showed much grace under pressure. However, he showed this characteristic the greatest when he was a small child, “from his birth in New York City on October 27, 1858, until his late teen, he suffered from asthma and was generally weak and frail” (The American Presidents 121). Teddy Roosevelt never gave up to illness and kept going on with his life heroically even though he was so small.
A need for ritual in Roosevelt’s career would be “his courageous support of good government throughout his career” (The American Presidents 122). This need for ritual was heroic because Theodore did what he knew was right all the time which is always honorable and heroic. Finally, that last characteristic of a code hero that Teddy showed was honor. Roosevelt demonstrated Honor in is famous motto and philosophy of “Speak softly and carry a big stick” (The American Presidents 124). Roosevelt portrays honor by backing up his words with action. Theodore Roosevelt was one of the greatest code heroes of all time.
Santiago, Brian Piccolo, and Theodore Roosevelt are all code heroes. They demonstrate the three characteristics that Ernest Hemingway thought mad up a hero, which includes grace under pressure, need for ritual, and courage, honor and/or endurance. All of these men were code heroes, but more people need to demonstrate these qualities because if they don’t, who knows how much crazier this world of ours will be. Works Cited Brian’s Song. Dir. Buzz Kulik. Columbia Pictures, 1971. Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. New York: Scribner, 1952. The American Presidents. Danbury, CT: Grolier Incorporated, MCMXCII.