The role of the hero can take many shapes. We love men who step up and meet challenges head-on, who protect and care for their families and who reach out to help others without though for themselves.
As an author, I will sometimes fall into the trap of creating a hero who deals with a situation that is larger than life. It’s tempting to flaunt those characteristics of “the perfect man”, providing him the proverbial burning building to race into to show how strong/smart/capable he is. However, I’ve slowly learned that it’s not the big things that make a hero memorable (to me at least), but the little things.
I have a confession to make, a lot of the traits of my heroes I’ve borrowed from my husband. No, you’re not seeing him exactly in all my stories, but you do see those little things that I feel make him a hero. Offering to buy a stranger a coffee when they don’t have exact change. Holding the door open for someone who’s arms are full. Sending flowers to a co-worker on their birthday when they don’t have anyone else to do so. These are the emotional keys that make us fall in love with a hero, I’d argue, more so than those grand gestures we sometime read about.
For example, I’ve recently re-read Ender’s Game. Ender is clearly the “hero” of the book, and the focus of the story. When I read this the first time, I was simply focused on him and his actions. I didn’t like the character of Graff and what he did to Ender, forcing him to mature quickly into the hero Earth needed. As an adult, I was surprised how much I picked up on Graff’s heroic qualities. It was the little things that struck me. How he would give Ender time that no other would. Small pats on the back, while meant to separate him from the others, in other situations were more of a father-son gesture. He hated doing what he had to with Ender, but Graff knew there was no other way. It would be fascinating to read the same story from his POV, showing us his struggles.
I’m rambling now…
Heroes come in all packages. While motorcycle, vampire, Dom, billionaire heroes are all the rage right now (that’s a thing, right??), sometimes the most interesting men are the ones who do the little things for others. Their stories can be as fascinating.
Who are some of your favourite heroes?