Nick Adams as Code Hero of In Our Time

Nick Adams as Code Hero of In Our Time

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Nick Adams as Code Hero of In Our Time  

Ernest Hemingway is noted for having made many contributions to the literary world and one of his most notorious contributions is the Code Hero. The birth and growth of the Code Hero can be easily observed simply by watching the growth and development of Nick Adams throughout Hemingway's writing. In Our Time contains a various assortment of Nick Adam stories at various stages of his life and also shows the Code Hero at various stages of its development. In Our Time was the second book Hemingway had published. His first contained only three short stories and ten poems and had little to do with the Code Hero, making In Our Time the first time Hemingway revealed the Code Hero to the rest of the world. The technique and characterization contained in In Our Time is consistent with most of Hemingway's later writings, setting up In Our Time as a model of Hemingway's style and the Code Hero

According to Professor Paul Totah of St. Ignatius, Hemingway defined the Code Hero as "a man who lives correctly, following the ideals of honor, courage and endurance in a world that is sometimes chaotic, often stressful, and always painful." The Code Hero measures himself by how well they handle the difficult situations that life throws at him. In the end the Code Hero will lose because we are all mortal, but the true measure is how a person faces death. The Code Hero is typically an individualist and free-willed. Although he believes in the ideals of courage and honor he has his own set of morals and principles based on his beliefs in honor, courage and endurance. Qualities such as bravery, adventuresome and travel also define the Code Hero. A final trait of the Code Hero is his dislike of the dark. It symbolizes death and is a source of fear for him. The rite of manhood for the Code Hero is facing death. However, once he faces death bravely and becomes a man he must continue the struggle and constantly prove himself to retain his manhood (Totah).

The Code Hero is present in the majority of Hemingway's novels. Even the young man in Hills Like White Elephants contained many of the characteristics of the Code Hero such as free-willed, individualist, and travel. The individualism comes out in his desire to not have a child.

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It would solidify the group aspect of a family between him and the lady. The travel trait is obvious by the mention of the stickers on the luggage denoting the many places they had been. His free will comes out also in his desire not to be a father. If he were a father he would have to begin making decisions for his child and family, not just for himself.

The first Nick Adam story, Indian Camp shows Nick as a young boy and also shows Nick as he experiences the main characteristic of the Code Hero, facing death bravely. Nick's witnessing of the Indian's suicide introduces him to death for the first time. Instead of being frightened or sickened by the experience, Nick stays strong and asks his father questions about it instead. The fear of darkness is also touched upon in Indian Camp. When Nick first goes to the camp it is dark and he sits in the boat with his father's arm around him, providing a sense of security. When Nick leaves the camp it is light outside. Nick runs his hand through the water, which is described as warm and provides the sense of security that his father had to provide during the night. The light shining on the water and warmth that Nick feels is also mentioned along with Nick's thought that he would never die. Nick draws strength and sanctuary from the morning as opposed to the night before. Nick's feeling that he would never die shows this as an early stage in his development into a Code Hero. He has not accepted the inevitability of death, yet.

The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife also shows Nick developing into the Code Hero, although in a very subtle way. Nick is only involved in the end of the story but the few sentences that Hemingway writes about him are enough to show development. Nick is described as sitting in the woods reading. This shows him as someone who enjoys the outdoors. From this it can be derived that he enjoys traveling. He doesn't like being tied down to civilization; he'd rather be out exploring and setting his own path. This shows the free will and individualism of Nick. The description of him reading shows that he's expanding his knowledge. It's unimportant what he's reading; it just shows that he's expanding his knowledge of the world. From this he will form his opinions and beliefs, helping him create his own value and belief system. His parents' contradicting religious views reinforce this. Since he does not have one religion exposed to him he has to examine both. From this he will pick and chose the ideals he believes in.

The End of Something and The Three-Day Blow show the development of Nick's individualism. Although his age is not mentioned, it can be assumed he has passed through adolescence and is becoming a young man. He feels that his relationship with Marjorie is becoming too close. He is losing his individuality as they become more of a couple, although he doesn't realize it. All he knows it that the relationship wasn't fun any longer and it was over for some reason he didn't know. Bill articulates the reason when he describes what married life would have been like for Nick. Nick would have had to settle down and get a job and raise a family. Bill also points out that Nick would have been marrying her whole family, not just her. Nick would have no longer been an individual; he would have been part of a group. He also would have lost his free will. He would not have been able to do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. He would have had to factor in the family into his decisions. Bill further points out that Marjorie's mother would have been around all the time telling them how to do things and act. Nick's desire to travel is illustrated when he thinks about how he and Marjorie had talked of going to Italy and all the places they would go and see. Another characteristic revealed is honor. Bill states that Nick did the right thing by breaking up with Marjorie now while she still has a chance to meet someone else and settle down with him. It is implied that by Nick stopping things he actually helped both of them avoid a life that would have made them miserable.

In The Battler Hemingway has Nick face death for the first time since that day at the Indian camp as a young boy. Nick is older now and is becoming a young man. Although death is not openly visible in the story, Nick does face it in two ways. The first is symbolic in the fact that although it is dark outside, Nick walks up to the fire and the stranger and begins a conversation. Nick bravely faced death in this instance. He didn't let the fact that it was dark, he was not near anyone that could help him, or that he didn't know the man stop him. The other way Nick faced death was his encounter with Ad. Ad said he was going o give Nick a beating but a man that could snap in and out of reality the way Ad did could easily beat Nick to death. Nick is aware that he is in a dangerous situation, but he remains calm and doesn't show cowardice. He slowly backs away from Ad while trying to talk him out of the fight. Although he backed away, he didn't turn and run or begin crying and begging for mercy. He recognized the fact that he couldn't win a fight against Ad and used his intelligence to try and find another solution. The Battler also shows Nick as a traveler. He is train hoping his way from town to town.

Cross-Country Snow again shows the travel aspect of the Code Hero. Nick talks of wanting t travel all over Switzerland and Europe to ski and mentions having traveled a lot in the United States. The story also shows Nick being unhappy about giving up his free will and individualism. He has a baby on the way and it will change everything. He knows he will have to return to the U.S. He says he is happy now that he will be a father but he still emits regret at not being able to ski anymore. This is symbolic of more than skiing, though. It symbolizes his regret at not being able to just bum around Europe or travel around the States. It symbolizes a loss of his free will. His decisions will no longer affect just him. This ties in with his loss of individualism. He now has a family to think about and provide for. He is part of a small group and not just an individual. Despite all this, he faces it bravely. He says he is happy to become a father. In this way he faces the death of his free will and individualism bravely.

Big Two-Hearted River shows Nick as a man and also reveals that he has acquired many of the qualities of the Code Hero. He is out in the woods and camping along the river alone, depicting his individualism. His camping and fishing show his adventuresome personality. His reminiscing of other fishing trips at various places reveals his love of traveling. Nick is always respectful of nature and the river. There is an aspect of Nick's fear of the dark as well. When he speaks his voice sounds strange in the darkness and he doesn't speak again. Despite this fear he is brave and camps out alone near the river. By this point Nick has nearly matured into the full Code Hero and fully into a man.

Chapter IV is the conclusion of the growth of the Code Hero and Nick Adams. Nick is in a war, most likely WWI. He has been shot and he is staring into the face of death. He is also smiling. In this short one paragraph sketch, Nick shows his bravery, courage and endurance to face an extremely difficult situation and face death. At this point Nick proves his manhood and shows the final evolution of the Code Hero. The fact that Nick is a soldier fighting in a war reinforces his bravery and courage. His survival during the war displays his ability to endure and persevere through tough situations.

Although it is a collection of short stories, Hemingway's In Our Time presents his famous Code Hero in various stages of its development through the development of one of his most famous characters, Nick Adams. Characteristics such as bravery, courage, endurance, free will, individualism, a desire to travel, a fear of the darkness and the ability to face death and the difficulty of life are prevalent in Nick as he grows from a young boy in Indian Camp into a man in Chapter VI. The Nick Adams stories contained in In Our Time do a great job of showing Nick at various stages of his life and in various stages of his development into the Code Hero, making the book a model of the Code Hero.

 
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