Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Narrative mode: #6 Hemingway's Code Hero

Some authors create their own frameworks and follow them in several novels.  Hemingway was one such author.  His work has been analyzed for the Code Hero which is quite different from the hero of the Heroic Journey mode.  
  • Hemingway's Code Hero courts death as a matter of honor. In fact, the hero must constantly challenge himself with facing battles which will likely end in his death.  Winning though good, is merely a delay from facing the ultimate final battle.  
  • Courage, honor, individualism and endurance are key features of this framework.  The hero must follow the rules, maintain his ethical standing in the community yet accept these challenges knowing and even creating opportunity for death.  
  • Classic dangerous animals are the common form of danger faced, so the death is not without injury and physical scarring.  Still the hero goes on.  
  • Oddly, Hemingway's Code Hero is often afraid of the darkness, a condition too close to the emptiness of death which he fears while pursuing it.

How might this show itself in a story?  The hero must be strong, viewed as invincible by his community, yet he must also be humble, often poor and limited by his station in life.  Winning against life's challenges is not like running a race or struggling with illness.  The win is not one that is recognized by many, and may only be acknowledge by a single person.  The hero's gain comes from within.  So it would not be unusual to find the character as a loner who must be in the wilderness battling to travel through snow storms or a solitary man traversing a jungle to find the remains of a lost airplane.

If you have read Old Man and the Sea, then you have see the Code Hero in action.  Santiago daily goes out alone on the ocean to seek prize fish.  It is dangerous, stressful, and physically debilitating, but he does not turn away nor wish for any other life.  In battle, he fights, both loving his opponent and plotting its death while accepting his own if that is how it must end.  When he does return to land, the battle over, he returns to his solitary, weary life, and the reader knows that tomorrow he will head out again, perhaps to meet his ultimate fate, death.

 The Little Handbook of Narrative Frameworks available on Smashwords and Amazon.

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