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As Nanda would put it, a hero need not be somebody of dignified importance, a common man be a hero (1). A hero can come in many different shapes and sizes. Male or female, child or elderly, family member or a complete stranger, there is no limit to who can be someone’s hero and anyone can “fit as aptly into the category as a king or an eli” (Nanda 1).
In the selections that were read, hero came in various forms and even in unusual way. Perhaps, the closest to the stereotype of hero is the character of Hard Rock in the poem “Hard Rock Returns to Prison” by Etheridge Knight, where a tough guy is type casted to the typical mold of a hero. He is a big black man from prison that everyone knows as being rough and tough. He was “known to take no shit from nobody.” ( Etheridge Knight, 194) he would whoop on anyone who said anything bad towards anyone. So the other prisoners looked at him as their hero. One had said “he had been our Destroyer, the doer of things we dreamed of doing but could not bring ourselves to do.” (Etheridge Knight, 195). In a way they all looked up to him, because he had the courage to do and stick up for what he believed in.
Heroes need not to be as tough as Hard Rock also. They can be as gentle as our mothers but can become a hero in someone else’s eyes. This was the case in the short story “The Train from Hate” there is a completely different type of hero. The hero is a young boy’s mother where her character was not necessarily as tough and popular as Knight’s Hard Rock but rather of someone with steely disposition. This was evident when they were kicked off the train for being colored. Instead of causing a big scene she simply gets off. The boy was very upset they had to do this but she explained to him carefully it is has nothing to do with them. “She assured me that the conductor was not superior because he was white, and I was not inferior because I was black.” (John Hope Franklin
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