Heroism

Nat Case ncase at hedbergmaps.com
Thu Sep 14 12:33:45 EDT 2000


Elise Wrote:

>I don't know how to formulate this question well, but - what is 
>going on when a book worships a character like that?  It's like all 
>those hollywood action movies where everyone's life is cheap except 
>the hero and his loved ones.  Everyone else is mown down and it's 
>all in a day's work, but if it happens to Bruce or Mel or Nick or 
>Tom's character, it's a tragedy.  Grump grump.


And yet when a film comments upon hero-worship, makes ironic 
references to it, it sometimes only makes matters worse. FARGO was a 
great movie, but I had take a shower after watching it... It made me 
feel all icky.

I think it plays on one of those That's-Just-The-Way-Humans-Are-Wired 
things. Whether it offends our judgement or not, the need to look up 
to people is hard wired into us. The challenge is what we do with it. 
We are all looked up to at some point (parents get it in varying 
amounts for most of their lives), and it's important to do good stuff 
with that momentary or non-momentary responsibility. I think of 
hero-stories as being really useful templates for that sort of 
learning of responsibility.


HOMEWARD BOUNDERS sort of spoiler:


Homeward Bounders (to bring it back to DWJ) is one of her most 
focused stories on this theme (notwithstanding Fire and Hemlock which 
is about a lot of other stuff too). And I think her showing not stock 
heroes but some real heroics is brilliantly, subtly done. (1) 
Prometheus, a real SUPER hero, but who is so humbled by the suffering 
he's had, he seems quite human. Good lesson. (2) Konstam, whom we 
meet first through Joris' eyes as pretty similar to Prometheus. When 
we finally meet him, he's not nearly as huge as Joris had suggested, 
but we do see why Joris loves and admires him so, and instead of 
stupid heroism, we see real admiration from the others. And finally 
(3) Jamie himself, whom we realize by the end is a hero in his own 
way, and has come to see the immensely lonely aspect of being looked 
to for strength... If you try to be your own hero, instead of a 
team-member, you will inevitably end up alone--admired, loved maybe, 
but very alone.

Ingrid commented last night that Jones' endings go on a few pages too 
long, at least the ones she's read. That ending, waiting until after 
the grand finale is over, and showing the victor alone with the 
spoils, is perfect. Uffda.

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