The question in the title of this writing assignment appears to be considerably difficult. Primarily, the most important issue that relates to this question is the immensely broad interpretation of the concept of a hero. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to investigate this concept from different perspectives to develop a personal definition of a hero by referencing to reading selections from the textbook as well as personal experiences.
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How Could a Hero Be Defined?
First of all, it is essential to understand that the concept of hero is deeply connected with other aspects of culture. Therefore, it means that societies in different historical periods had varying perceptions of what it means to be a hero. It is worth mentioning that nearly every ethnos had its definition of a heroic person. In the majority of cases, these definitions were closely connected with the nation’s mythology and religious beliefs.
Arguably, one of the most recognized and influential (concerning its impact on the Western culture) examples of hero is the Ancient Greek literature. Represented by such characters as Ulysses and Hercules, a hero was defined as a person who can go against the gods and his or her fate. Further, the concept of a hero was the subject of continuous transformation throughout history. It is also possible to mention that traditionally the concept of hero is traditionally related to the phenomenon of war. However, this concept is also expanded by including such professions and occupations as firefighters, safeguards, or doctors. In overall, it could be concluded that a hero is usually defined as an individual who is capable of doing something unordinary for a common person.
Examples from Reading Selections
It could be hardly denied that the idea of a hero and its interpretations hold a significant place in the literature of various cultures from different historical periods. Therefore, this section dwells upon the investigation of three examples of such interpretations from reading selections.
The Train from Hate
In the first reading under consideration, the author explores the notion of a hero from a very interesting angle, putting it in the context of racial relations. He tells a story from his childhood, in which he and his mother had to travel to another city to buy some products (James 150). They boarded on the train, and as they were doing it in a rush, they did not recognize that the coach was reserved only for white people. Thus, the conductor told them to leave the train. The author was shocked by this event, and he asked his mother: why did the conductor be so rude? The mother told James that it does not matter what intentions did this man had because the most important thing is to keep one’s dignity under any circumstances (James 150). Thus, the author’s interpretation of hero dwells upon the idea of nobility.
The second excerpt is taken from Bodega Dreams, and in the passage under discussion, the author tells a story about his school friend, Sapo, who is expelled from school for confronting his English teacher, Mr. Blessington. However, Sapo is not portrayed as a hero in this passage, but rather as a troubled teenager who is frustrated with the constant mistreatment of Mr. Blessington, who tells his student that they end up in jail (James 121). In my opinion, the real hero in this story is another character, Tapia. He also works as a teacher, but he tries to encourage young people to make their own decisions in life and succeed through hard work and honesty.
The third reading is the poem by Alma Luz Villanueva, in which she interprets the concept of a hero as bravery (or “crazy courage”) not to compromise with other people’s opinions about how one should express himself or herself (James 149). The main character of the poem is the author’s friend from school, Michael, who decided to show his personality through both masculinity and femininity. This decision is difficult for Michael since he receives misunderstanding from other people. However, he does not compromise his ethical principles, which is the primary definition of a hero, according to the author (James 149).
Example from Real Life
It is possible to summarize the ideas from the previous section since each of the authors proposes a relatively similar view of a hero: it is a person who is consistent with his or her moral code and who possesses dignity. However, these traits of character do not only appear in literature, but also in the life of common people. For example, one of my friends was very passionate about studying photography, even though nobody seemed to support his passion.
Sometimes he was mocked and sometimes people around him did not understand why it is so important to him. However, he was consistent with his occupation, and through the course of time, he mastered his skill. Moreover, this friend of mine managed to win a competition, and thus he proved that he was serious about his interest and that he indeed had a talent.
The University’s Core Values and the Notion of Hero
It is possible to observe the relations between hero and society from the perspective of two of the University’s core values, integrity, and excellence. It is argued that integrity is one of the most important characteristics of a hero because he or she is inevitably involved in the life of society. A person who is consistent with his or her moral standards is naturally integrated into society because he or she aims to positively contribute to the well-being of people around him or her. Excellence is also highly important since it encourages an individual to act responsible and grow as a person.
My Definition of Hero
Since various perspectives on the question under consideration were discussed in previous sections, it is appropriate to formulate my definition of a hero. In my opinion, the most important lesson which could be retrieved from chosen reading selections is that hero is not always defined by something great or outstanding regarding their contribution to society. My primary point is that even an ordinary person can be a hero if he or she puts enough effort into complying with the chosen moral standards. People contribute to society in different ways, and thus every person’s contribution matters.
To summarize the findings of this paper, it is possible to say that the notion of hero is still difficult to identify with certainty. Nevertheless, this essay explored various examples of who is considered to be a hero in different circumstances. In overall, a generalized definition of hero could be formulated as follows: a hero is a person who put his ethical principles and well-being of other people higher than his or her needs and desires.
James, Missy, et al. Reading Literature and Writing Argument. 6th ed., Pearson, 2016.