What is a Hero?

Sometimes, we admire people who have done unbelievable, notable things in life and define them as heroes, but sometimes we overlook those who do minor Great acts in life. Therefore, the definition of a hero should incorporate all factors, which fit the description, and it is important to understand what actually defines a hero. This paper explains what a hero is and justifies the definition of this concept through several readings, personal experience, and library research.

The primary Greek definition of a hero suggests that it is a person who demonstrates bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of imminence and disaster or from a position of weakness (Ghesquiere & Knut 9). A hero is a person of eminent courage or capacity acknowledged for the valiant deeds and honorable qualities. The literature suggests that a hero is an individual that has to be respected and imitated (Ghesquiere & Knut 10). Therefore, a hero constantly depicts the incarnation of the exemplars of the creating culture. Historical occasions and social circumstances of various cultures provoke appreciating discrepant characteristics in heroes. The cultural valuables are repulsed in both the actions of a hero and his/her motivations (Ghesquiere & Knut 12).

The paper analyzed three literature pieces, namely Bodega Dreams by Ernesto Quinonez, the poem Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital of the Criminal Insane by Etheridge  Knight, and the essay The Train from Hate by John Franklin. Each literary piece demonstrates a hero with all of them being different from each other. The main hero of Bodega Dreams is Bodega. This is a fascinating character as he is a twisted, complicated cultural hero. This character only partially fits the definition of a hero as definitely not all of his deeds and qualities are honorable. On the one hand, Bodega is a neighborhood activist, who desires to enhance the Latino’s persona. He restores and modernizes buildings in Spanish Harlem, helps to put a number of children to school, and assists people in misery around El Barrio (Quinonez 181). On the other hand, Bodega does all the above-mentioned reputable acts with the help of money that he obtained from selling drugs (Quinonez 182). Thus, despite the fact that Bodega has a respectable dream of cleaning up Spanish Harlem and makes this dream come true, he cannot be considered a true hero. Nevertheless, he is a genuine hero for numerous Latinos as he helps the community, and they, in turn, ignore the fact that he sells drugs. Self-sacrifice is a highly important feature in the definition of a hero. Regardless of the fact that Bodega apparently cares about other people, the reality suggests that he is selfish. The true motive of his actions is to win the girl of his dreams, Vera. He is a street hero, a character who cannot be completely considered a hero or a villain.

The main hero of the powerful poem Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital of the Criminal Insane is Hard Rock. Primarily and most importantly, Hard Rock is the living example of a free man imprisoned (Knight 194). He fights on behalf of everyone and obtains heroic rank for his opposition to authority. Hard Rock is highly important for his prison inmates as he is their hope. Hard Rock fits the definition of a hero since he is brave and demonstrates self-sacrifice is his fight against authorities. The latter turned him into a ‘vegetable’ applying a frontal lobotomy (Knight 198). Despite the fact that Hard Rock is prisoners’ symbol of heroism, he has been tamed. This is a reason why the spirit has gone out of the hero-believers too; the poem demonstrates them as battered, knuckled down, and divested of their spirit as Hard Rock has been deprived of his.

The main hero of the essay The Train from Hate is Ms. Franklin. Her major honorable quality is the ability to forgive and teach others not to hate people who are unfair or bad. The essay demonstrates how the Franklin family relived through the demonstration of racism and worthily came out of the situation thanks to Ms. Franklin (Franklin 223). Ms. Franklin fits the definition of a hero as she was brave, kind, strong, and non-selfish. She cared about her children; after they entered the train, she did everything for them not to suffer from racism or be harmed. She was also wise because she reasonably explained the global society problems. Most importantly, she asked her children to become better individuals by not hating. This is an example of a minor but great act in life.

The analysis of typical definitions of a hero, particular literary pieces and personal experience helped me to create my own definition of a hero. I know only a few people whom I can call heroes. My father is one of them. Defining a hero, I define my own father. Thus, a hero is a person, who makes positive contribution to the lives of other people via personal efforts but without compromising individual and moral values. I believe that positive contribution is very important. The Train from Hate demonstrates how Ms. Franklin positively influenced her children preserving and devolving her individual and moral values. In fact, Bodega does not fit this definition because despite the fact that he has made positive contributions, he compromised moral values while dealing drugs. I believe that a true hero cannot be half-good and half-bad similar to Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby), or Prince Hamlet (Hamlet), or Shylock (The Merchant of Venice), or Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind), etc. (Ghesquiere & Knut 8). He or she can make mistakes, but the hero should understand on which side he/she is fighting or in a name of what he/she makes positive contribution. Moreover, the achievement of some great things in accordance to worldly standards is not an indicator of heroism for me. In addition, I believe that self-sacrifice is not a necessary component of heroism. There are situations in which sacrifice is too easy, and it is much more complicated to continue to live than to die. The poem Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital of the Criminal Insane is a perfect example of the above-mentioned idea as the major hero stopped suffering, while his sacrifice deprived others of hope. It is very complicated, if not close to impossible, to live without hope.

People need heroes since they help us to understand how we want to see an ideal person and what to strive for. Literature typically suggests us heroes who changed the world, saved millions of lives, etc. I believe that minor great things, which positively influence somebody’s life and strengthen moral values, are more representative of a genuine hero than exemplary feats.

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