Two books by Ernest Hemingway, “Big Two Hearted River” and “The Old Man and the Sea,” both effectively demonstrate Hemingway’s code hero.
Ernest Hemingway’s code hero is often interpreted as an intelligent, brave, honest, and hard working man who makes the best of what they have. Of the two of these books Santiago, the lead character in The Old Man and the Sea, proves to follow the code more strictly than Nick in Big Two Hearted River.
While both The Old Man and the Sea and Big Two Hearted River demonstrate Hemingway’s code hero effectively through their main characters, the code is more evident in Santiago. Santiago demonstrates his courage (that could easily be mistaken as stupidity) when he makes the bold decision to venture out further than the rest of the fishermen to catch the biggest fish. Santiago proves his intelligence through his knowledge of the fish by recognizing its behavior was very different and, almost experienced compared to other fish Santiago had encountered previously.
While Nick in Big Two Hearted River shows both of these characteristics, he fails to present them as well as Santiago. Nicks courage is proven through inferred knowledge that he was in war in Italy, which does not allow the reader to see proof of his courage first hand. Nick is obviously intelligent but his intelligence is not a recurring point in the book like it is in Old Man and the Sea, in which Hemingway is always pointing out Santiago’s knowledge towards the fish.
Santiago is a hard working character who remains true to Hemingway’s code hero throughout the novel Old Man and the Sea. Santiago proves not to be particularly religious unless he feels that his fishing rests on it. At one point he says he will say a hundred hail Marries if he catches the marlin. Santiago often tries to make the best out of a bad situation. This is seen as Santiago talks to Manolin before he leaves on his trip. They both talk about rice and blankets that were not really there. Santiago is portrayed as a hard working individual. During the trip he does not take a break except to rest once in a three day trip. He proves to be incredibly devoted to what he does and is very persistent when it comes to reaching the goal.
Nick too is persistent and hardworking, but this is not as obvious as it is with Santiago. While Nick is making the trek home, he never allows his emotions to take over him when he sees and hears things that stir up old memories inside of him from the war and how life was before he left. Nick is a bold but careful individual. Evidence of this is seen in how Nick is strong in controlling his emotions but careful to release them gradually so that they do not overpower him. Nick just like Santiago is both strong and wise.
Hemingway’s code hero can be found in Nick and Santiago in the books Big Two Hearted River and Old Man and the Sea, but Santiago is ultimately a stronger example of the code hero. Nick does in fact show the characteristics of a Hemingway code hero but the characteristics are hidden and not stated boldly like they are in Old Man and the Sea.