Earnest Hemingway's heroes are achieved through the triumph over major challenges in placed before a character. His conception of a hero is not defined so differently from that of Joseph Campbell's in the Hero with a Thousand Faces. Characters are considered heroes if they are able to begin at the stage of idyllic happiness meet unprecedented trials and finally triumph over these challenges. The hero travels through difficult challenges loosing the self and learning many lessons that finally trigger him for the last duel with fate which he must win. The obstacles in this journey are numerous, but are a key to the hero's crucial understanding of life; which is the only way a hero achieves enlightenment in his life according to author and teacher Joseph Campbell.
The Run Lola Run, a masterful thriller novel by Tom Tykwer, Lola can be regarded as a hero in the light of Hemmingway's conception of a hero. She faces many challenges in her relationship and successfully manages to 'run' out of tribulations. :Like conceptualized by Hemmingway, she recounts many incidences of injustices inflicted on her young soul by the traditional gender based roles that challenges every woman. Unlike many women who give up and succumb to pressure, she fights on and escapes pains even through run away from those who she perceives are responsible for her misfortunes. Her journey through emotional turmoil becomes a great source for her patience and strength in better days to come.
Another character who can be regarded as a hero in the light of Hemmingway's conception of a hero is Jake La Motta in the Ragging Bull by Rushdie. The ever zealous and yet ugly looking Jake La Motta is a boxing veteran who has flown too high in the boxing sport by the virtue of his ability to kneel his opponents and snatch victory from them by washing them in their own blood., (Boggs, 45). Like many of Hemmingway heroes, La Motta is competing with himself. He does not feel a hero enough in the ring and wants to attain another form of victory unfamiliar to his funs. La Motta's subjective view gets him drank about rising to the top. He however does not want to get to the top normally and thinks his brother Joey is the only one fit to help to him. He has a wife but nothing exists between them in the name of love. The resultant state is La Motta's endless search for seduction in the middle of training. His undying urge to please the funs become his undoing. He eventually wins against his self-righteousness and become an ultimate winner in the rings after numerous loses, (Boggs, 79).
Soldier's home by Hemmingway, the main character Krebs can not be regarded as a hero. He returns to Oklahoma late from war to the cold reception of his town. Everything has changed for Krebs and his new 'home' becomes his disappointments in life. Before he went to war, Krebs was an affectionate son and brother; however during the war he did away with most of his beliefs and norms and did whatever he wanted. He was religious and 'went to the war from the Methodist College in Kansas', which is evidence enough of a normal life led by anybody of his age then, (Earnest, 2). He had little time or no interest in women then. But the conduct of Krebs following 'his second division's return from Rhine in the summer of 1919' is that of a person having a problem with his own self, (Earnest, 152).
Unlike other characters who can be regarded as heroes, Krebs' journey in adventure does not add anything positive to him, he instead becomes a social mis-fit: he wants to enjoy glories of the war that was accorded to the other soldiers. But his late return home is a belated shot for societal recognition. His lateness in returning home is hurting since all other heroes have been celebrated and he is left struggling to belong to a town he once belonged. The high profile social alienation he experiences makes him want to please his accountancies by being dishonest about the war so as to heal his psychologically wounded self.
To conclude, Hemmingway's conception of hero is very philosophical. Many critics have however questioned the efficacy of Hemmingway's litmus test for heroes. The major claim, as Delbert (34) avers, has been the disregard for the hero to conquer the self. In true, Hemmingway must understand that despite the external challenges that a character must face, to be a hero one must first win control of the self. A character must be in control of their morality and actions in order to please not only the society by the self, (Delbert, 79). Many characters may triumph over challenges and antagonistic forces on their way but the failure to win over their own emotions, moral dilemmas and attitudes may deter them from being regarded as heroes. The fundamental question to ask is, what is the need use of defeating all antagonists and challenges and still become a slave to self-guilt, emotional inadequacies and suffer social alienation? The answer is obvious, beating all these forces is just a means to being a hero; it is not the end.