Ernest Hemingway once said, “As you get older, it is harder to have heroes,
but it is sort of necessary.”Hemingway knew this because he actually invented
his famous code hero. The Hemingway code hero was a macho man that indulged
in liquor, women, and food, and usually did not fear God. While reading The Old Man and the Sea, the reader is not exposed to the usual Hemingway code hero. Hemingway creates an aging hero that proves to be the opposite of the normal code hero by his disinterest in physical pleasures, the presence of religion, and the presence of a companion.
Santiago, the main character in the story, does not divulge in any pleasures what so ever. It almost seems as though he is trying to make himself suffer. Everyday, Santiago hardly eats anything but a little fish or coffee. He does not have any relationships with women in the story, as many Hemingway novels have included. While Santiago is out on the boat, he does not let himself stray from the task at hand even though it is very uncomfortable. The Hemingway code hero would be the exact opposite of Santiago. He would eat large meals every day, make love to many women, and never put himself in a position that he did not like. The code hero would do everything as though it was the last time he was doing it because he did not believe strongly in the presence of God.
Santiago was different because he believed in God, and prayed to him for help throughout the story. While he was at sea, he often prayed that he would get the fish or that he would live to see the fish brought to the village. Santiago did not fear death and the reader senses that Santiago believes that if he dies, he will go to heaven. The story is also filled with many biblical references and the whole book has a religious theme. Hemingway does not usually have his code heroes be religious, and most of them feel that they only have this time on earth and they had better make the best out of it.
Finally , Hemingway’s code hero differs in The Old Man and the Sea because of the presence of the boy that is Santiago’s companion. Known only as the boy, he is constant throughout the novel as Santiago’s student, who takes care of Santiago. It seems that everything that Santiago does is for the boy, and not himself. In the normal code hero, the hero would do everything for the benefit of himself and for no one else. The hero is usually not a fatherly, gentle figure, but a robust, energetic manly man.
Therefore, it can be seen that Santiago is different than other Hemingway characters because of the distinct actions he made. And although Santiago does not meet the standards of the Hemingway code hero, it is his disinterest in physical pleasures, his need for a companion, and the presence of religion that makes him a special hero in his own right.