The Old Man and the Sea Questions and Answers
by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea book cover
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Give three characteristics of Hemingway's code hero (a man who lives correctly, following the ideas of honor, courage and endurance in a world that is sometimes chaotic) possessed by Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea. Provide examples of each characteristic.

Three characteristics of Hemingway's code hero that Santiago possesses include self-reliance, perseverance, and courage. He shows them in his determination to catch a fish despite previous failures.

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The short novel The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway tells of an old fisherman named Santiago who goes far out into the Gulf Stream off the Cuban coast, hooks an immense marlin, and then struggles to pull it to the boat and back to shore. Santiago has numerous characteristics that identify him as a hero according to Hemingway's code. Among these are self-reliance, perseverance, and courage.

At the beginning of the story we learn that until recently Santiago has been accompanied by a boy when he goes out to fish. Because they went a long time without catching anything, the boy's parents ordered him to transfer to another boat. Rather than giving up, Santiago is self-reliant enough to continue to go out alone. He feels that a man must take care of himself. Santiago even argues with the boy when the boy wants to get some sardines and bait fish for him. The boy has to bargain with Santiago, who will allow him to help only a little. Santiago claims to have some food to eat when he gets home, showing his stubborn self-reliance. He probably would have gone hungry rather than admit that he hasn't, but the boy brings him a warm meal from the Terrace.

We see Santiago's perseverance as he patiently continues to fish even though for a long time he doesn't catch anything other than an albacore. When he hooks the great marlin, he holds on to the line for two days and nights even though the line cuts into his hands and he is in pain. He endures exhaustion and even eats raw fish. He is determined to keep hanging on somehow until he is able to pull the marlin in. He proclaims to the fish that he will stay with it until he is dead.

Santiago manifests great courage in this story. He goes farther out onto the ocean than the other fishermen are willing to go; unlike them, he is all alone. After he has brought in his great marlin sharks come to feed on the carcass. He fights them as best he can, first with his harpoon and then with his knife, which he lashes to an oar. Although he cannot win, he continues to fight until there is nothing left of the marlin but the bones.

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