Exploring the Theme of Heroism in Roger Rosenblatt's Short Story The Man in the Water

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3 May 2013
Hero Essay
We, as humans, know of heroes. We’ve seen them on the television and they’re essentially the basis of all stories. And most heroes, if not all, have those stereotypical traits of bravery, courage, and selflessness. These traits are what make a hero. But a man is not a hero if bravery and courage and selflessness are normal in that society. It is the heroes’ non-native and unique characteristics that make them a hero in their own culture. A hero in that society would need to have different, noble characteristics that the rest do not have, which would allow him to stand out among the rest of his people. In the short story “The Man in the Water” by Roger Rosenblatt, the anonymous hero had each of the three stereotypical characteristics of a hero, but he was different. He exaggerated these traits beyond the point of normality in that situation, which could be directly analogous to a hero in a society. A hero in a society is only a hero if his heroism requires certain characteristics that are not normal and often seen in the society he originates from.

The man in the water’s extraordinary selflessness and courage are one of the few key aspects that compelled his heroic title. In the beginning of the story, Rosenblatt talks about other tragedies similar to the one in the story and inputs, “Still, there was nothing special in any of it, except death, which, while always special, does not necessarily bring millions to tears or to attention. Why, then, the shock here?” (Rosenblatt 978). Even though comparable events have occurred in the past, this tragedy is different, unique to its kind. The difference is the hero involved. This hero made a much greater impact on the society and was much more memorable because of his outstanding actions. During interviews of Eugene Windsor of a park police helicopter team who was on scene when the man answered the call of duty, he said that “In a mass casualty, you’ll find people like him. But...
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