Hemingway's Portrayal of Masculinity

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Hemingway’s Portrayal of Masculinity

When thinking of masculinity in literature, one author has who has become synonymous with manliness comes to mind, Ernest Hemingway. Critics have spent countless hours studying his writing in order to gain insight into his world of manly delights, including his views on sex, war, and sport. His views can be seen through his characters, his themes and even his style of writing.

The characters in Hemingway’s stories reveal much about how he feels about men and the role they should play in society. Most of Hemingway’s male characters can be split into one of two groups. The first of which is the “Code” Hero. This is the tough, macho guy who chooses to live his life by following a “code of honor, courage, chivalry, honestly, and the ability to bear pain with resistance and dignity, and does not whine when defeated” (Scott, 217). This hero is Hemingway’s ideal man, whom every man should want to become. Robert Penn Warren writes of the “code” hero: [Hemingway’s] heroes are not squealers, welchers, compromisers, or cowards, and when they confront defeat they realize that the stance they take, the stoic endurance, the stiff upper lip means a kind of victory. If they are to be defeated they are defeated upon their own terms; some of them have even courted their defeat; and certainly they have maintained, even in the practical defeat, an ideal of themselves – some definition of how a man should behave, formulated or unformulated – by which they have lived. They represent some notion of a code, some notion of honor, that makes a man a man, and that distinguishes him from people who merely follow their random impulses and who are, by consequence, “messy.” (Warren, 79)

Hemingway also seems to associate acts of violence with masculinity. Nathan Scott Jr. writes of Hemingway’s manliest characters: Whatever they do, whether it be bullfighting or fishing or prizefighting or hunting lions in the African bush or blowing up...
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