The Characteristics of a Code Hero

Many values faded after World War I, so Hemingway gave man new ideals.

The Code Hero refers to Ernest Hemingway's characters that exhibit certain views toward the world around them. Scholar Philip Young coined the phrase "Code Hero" and not Hemingway. The characteristics of a Code Hero stem from the state of the world just after World War I, which most writers describe as a world without meaning. Hemingway's heroes find meaning only through themselves and not externally.

1 Facing Death and After Death

The actions of Hemingway's characters revolve around the concept of death. Hemingway's Code Hero avoids death because it means the end of life, as he does not believe in an afterlife; however, the Code Hero faces death bravely in hopes to survive it. He only faces death in order to find out more about his internal being, and he needs to continue life for as long as possible. A Code Hero faces death with dignity because it is the only thing the hero is really guaranteed.

2 The Nada Effect and Code Hero Characteristics

"Nada," is Spanish for "nothing," which is what a Code Hero finds when he dies. Since a Code Hero does not believe in an afterlife, he needs to find meaning and purpose in his life. Life is the only chance he has to prove his worth, but the Code Hero does this while enjoying the benefits of life. The Code Hero does not believe in anything, especially religion, which he believes is false. Life is everything whereas death is nothing -- nada.

3 Afraid of Darkness

Most of Hemingway's Code Heroes fear the darkness night brings. The Code Hero sees darkness as symbolic of death, which one day he will face. In order to avoid nighttime and reminders of death, the hero drinks heavily at night and sleeps during the day. It is at night that the Code Hero becomes very sensuous and engages in all of his desires. Also, the Code Hero sees his desires -- sex, alcohol and food -- as the only pleasures in life, so it is his view to enjoy everything life offers.

4 Action Without Emotion

A Code Hero is a man of action and not a man of words. The Code Hero is confident in every action in which he performs, and he does not discuss his heroic actions with anyone. The hero believes that discussing his actions makes them less admirable. In fact, a hero does not exhibit emotion because he believes it is a sign of weakness.

5 Code Hero Discipline

The Code Hero lives a very disciplined and structured life amid a chaotic and destructive world. He lives by strict moral rules, and he follows them religiously. The Code Hero rejects cultural and social morals, and he only really believes in self-discovery and blunt honesty. To the Code Hero, the only thing that matters is how a persons chooses to live life.

Based in Bryn Athyn, Penn., Sarah Bostock has been writing since 2006. Her articles on education have been featured in "The Virginia English Bulletin." Bostock holds a Master of Science in English with a concentration in British literature from Radford University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in photography from Virginia Intermont College.