Santiago: The Hemingway Hero
The book Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is one like most Hemingway books. It contains, like most of his works, hidden meanings in the texts. Not only that, but the main character is one of an adventurous, glamorous lifestyle, much like Hemingway himself. Santiago, the main character of The Old Man and the Sea, has been debated over the topic as to whether or not he is actually worthy to be deemed a "Hemingway Hero."
The "Hemingway Hero"
In each of Hemingway's books, he puts uniqueness in each main character that remains true throughout all his books. This uniqueness is a combination of qualities that place the character in a category of a "Hemingway Hero." What exactly are these qualities? Well, first off, a Hemingway Hero depends wholly on himself, and is completely self-reliant: a loner at heart. "Participating in Nature makes the Hemingway Hero feel alive and refreshed, for nature offers him an opportunity to test his skills through forms of competition, such as hunting and fishing," (Dwiggins). Therefore, a Hemingway Hero also enjoys nature, as far as to the point of coinciding or even seeming to rely on Natures Company. It is usually a male, who would face danger willingly because he believes that his worth as a man is measured by his ability to endure. A hero made by Hemingway views personal violence (healthy competition between two worthy
opponents) as something necessary and beneficial to life. The Hemingway Hero, by competing with an equally skilled opponent, can prove his manhood through such testing of endurance, courage, strength, and spirit. He faces Death as any human, however, regards a fight to the death as an ultimate challenge of his worth, and advances to face such challenges with supreme dignity. Although the hero does this, he is rarely satisfied on his life or accomplishments, and proves himself again and again. He holds extreme intimacy with nature, holding a deep appreciation for her sights, sounds, and smells. Most of all, the Hemingway Hero displays four very important qualities that ultimately complete the being as a Hemingway Hero. These qualities are courage, honor, endurance, and "grace under pressure."
The main character Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea completes his seaward journey, trials, and tribulations with much courage inside. "Santiago, throughout his hardships of his three-day fight with the marlin, displays courage by keeping at the task, no matter how tired he gets, and 'going the distance,' (Dwiggins). This "going the distance" she speaks of is not only the fact that he went the distance by holding onto the marlin, and not letting it go, but also going out farther than the rest of the fisherman normally would. Not only did he go further than the fisherman in that factor, but also in the factor of vowing for a fight with the Marlin to the death. He was not going to let go, no matter the cost. "Just as Santiago goes 'far out' beyond the lesser ambitions of the other fishermen, he finds the great fish not simply because he was the better fisherman, but because, in a symbolic sense, he deserves it," (Davis 6). Why does Santiago deserve
this great catch? Well, simply put, he had the courage to go out and look for it, unlike the other fishermen. Also, to go out as far as he did reveals another idea of his courage. His boat could have easily capsized, or he could've gotten lost out in the deep blue sea. The courage to go out as far as he did helps his nomination for the honor of being named a "Hemingway Hero."
Honor is another clearly shown characteristic of Santiago throughout The Old Man and the Sea. "Furthermore it helps him earn the deeper respect of the village fisherman and secures him a prized companionship of the boy--he knows that he will never have to endure such an epic struggle in his entire life," (Mitchell 506). The deeper respect of the fisherman and also the companionship of the boy are a...
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Dwiggins, Mary. Hemingway Defines the Code Hero as. Millikin University. 18 April 2004. .
Harris, Laurie Lanzen. Characters in 20th Century Literature. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1990. 167-168.
Hovey, Richard B. "The Old Man and the Sea: A new Hemingway Hero." Discourse: A Review of Liberal Arts. Vol. IX, No 3 (Summer 1996): 283-94.
Magill, Frank N, Ed. Critical Survey of Long Fiction. Pasadena: Salem Press, 1991. 1595-1607.
Mitchell, Sharie P. A Guide to American Literature. 2nd ed. New York: Bantam Books, 1998.
Stoltzfus, Ben. "Gide and Hemingway: Rebels against God." Exploring Novels (2003): 39t. Students Resource Center. Lee High School Library, Midland, TX. 18 March 2004. .
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