Heroes in Literature

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Many 20th century non-western literary texts have a hero that everyone looks up to. These heroes tend to show extreme bravery and courage, and are ready to sacrifice their lives for the good of someone other than themselves. A typical hero is unselfish and never compromises his principles or his beliefs, even if it means standing alone at times. There is Hassan in The Kite Runner who is loyal, selfless and full of integrity to the point of self-sacrifice; the Child Bride, who fights to the bitter end to survive her harsh ordeal; and Tita in Like Water For Chocolate, who has to sacrifice her own happiness for the sake of family traditions. However, there are many characters in these stories that are not given as much credit or attention by the audience. They are the unsung heroes, the “people who make a substantive yet unrecognized contribution and whose bravery is unknown or unacknowledged” (dictionary.com). Though these characters may warrant our disapproval or dismay early on , they are able to overcome adversity or rejection, and reveal integrity and unexpected depth of character. The hero of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is Hassan, a boy who demonstrates sincere yet unacknowledged love and respect for his friend Amir, whose unthinkable betrayal he is able to forgive. In his letter to Amir he writes: “And I dreamt that someday you will return to Kabul to revisit the land of our childhood. If you do, you will find an old faithful friend waiting for you.” (Khaled Hosseni, 218). These words show Hassan has no resentment toward Amir. Amir, on the other hand, starts off as a weak and unlikable character. He is not ready to sacrifice himself for Hassan when he is in urgent need of help, though he knows that his friend would... ... middle of paper ... ... by no means a perfect hero but he gains our admiration through his countless displays of restraint and self-sacrifice. As we can see, there are many examples of non-typical heroism in 20th century Non-Western texts. These characters are often ordinary people with complicated lives. They have undergone some difficulties and overcome them; they emerge ready to follow a more positive direction, and thereby gain our respect and admiration. As readers, we can relate to these characters more easily than to the typical heroes whose standards we can not possibly attain. We all meet challenges at some point in our lives and we’re not always able to handle them with grace. It is those who don’t succumb to defeat that are the objects of our admiration. These people symbolize the depth of human capacity and, perhaps, leave a shade of hope for and belief in a better society.

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