Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Code Hero of Heminway

Whereas the Hemingway hero is young and inexperienced, lost and confused in this valueless world, the code hero––or ‘the tutor’ in Earl Rovit’s terms is usually an older man who has become what he had to become. He has realised the potentialities and known the area of his operation. He is usually a professional––a bull-fighter, a fisherman, a veteran soldier, or a prize-fighter. He is sure to excel in the area of his choice and he does not easily step out of that. He possesses immense resources of courage and endurance. Since he has known how to excel he also knows how to face defeat with dignity.

In Hemingway’s novels and short stories the code hero sets an example for the Hemingway hero to imitate if he possibly can, while the Hemingway hero admires him. The former finds the latter’s standard of conduct too high.
The Code f Action
Wilson, the white hunter, knows no fear. His code demands that he should not leave the wounded lion to die by himself. It further demands that he should go after him and finish him off. Macomber, on the other hand, flees at the sight of the charging lion. He even proposes to let the lion escape in that wounded condition. But this does not mean that Wilson is a model of conduct in all walks of life. He sleeps with Margot Macomber’s wife without any scruples or even reflecting any sign of guilt on his poker face. Romero the bull-fighter in The Sun Also Rises refuses to accept defeat at the hands of Robert Cohn who has been the boxing champion at Princeton. In the bull ring he faces the bulls squarely without letting his physical injuries impede his performance. He makes love to Brett without loci-g his dignity. Santiago in The Old. fan and the Sea, in spite of his old age, exhaustion, hunger, and the knowledge that he might eventually lose, does not let the marlin escape. He fights the battle to its bitter end until he is successful. It is with the same courage and dignity that he defends his prize against the sharks. He knows that it is a useless struggle and it would be too much of luck to get away with his prize specially’ in the big sea and when the marlin is bleeding but to give up would be unmanly. He attains human stature in the face of heavy and even insurmountable odds.
Automatic Responses
These are the qualities that the Hemingway hero admires and finds extremely difficult to imbibe in his life. The code hero’s responses are almost automatic and there is no room for thought which hampers the Hemingway hero from acting. The tutor is sure of his actions and his responses are born out of the confidence that he has acquired in his chosen field. Once they step out of their chosen area they are on slippery ground, as for example, Brennan in Fifty Grand. The Major in In Another Country cries at the death of his wife even though he has dealt with death all his life. His wife’s death places him in In Another Country where he does not know how to act. The code hero offers up and exemplifies the principles of honour, courage and endurance, which in a life of violence and pain, make a man Man.
Wins Moral Victories
It is not to say that the code hero is more successful than the Hemingway hero. Hs also suffers defeat but he wins moral victories. He refuses to compromise his dignity at any cost. Santiago loses the marlin but he has the satisfaction that he did all he could. And it is the satisfaction that lends him dignity and even grandeur. Earl Rovit thinks that the tutor is the embodiment of wish-fulfilment of a successful response :
                The tutor figure has already achieved a self-containment or a definition before he appears in the fiction ; he already is, and the faculty of his self-acceptance removes him from the disintegrating experiences of becoming The tutor has already become himself and his further engagement in life will not seriously affect what he is ; it will only substantiate and qualify that definition ; and when his activities are figured forth in narrative, they will necessarily be separated with a moral significance. For when the tutor is placed in a challenge situation within his scope of mastery, he will do whatever can be done in the right way. And ‘right’ conduct almost airways in fl m is rendered with a strong degree of ethical coercion––hence the consequent level of didacticism in n all parables.
Code Valid For Extreme Situations
Hemingway has been usually accused of championing the sportsman’s morality which cannot take cognizance of the complicated, everyday life. Hemingway is also accused of simplifying the complicated issues of life and it is said that he brought a major talent to a minor vision of life. There is some justification in this charge but it is not the whole truth. It is unfair to dictate what an author should write about. Hemingway has shown what right conduct is in a given situation, and these situations usually are of an extreme nature dealing with some crises in human life. If this code is valid for extreme situations, such as the struggle between life and death, a threat to one’s security or life or an assault on one’s honour and dignity, then Hemingway seems to be implying that this code is equally valid for everyday existence.

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