Tim Kenda English 102 Short Story Essay 2/28/10 Heroism Through Choice When people think of heroes, they often think of muscle bound men in spandex with unrealistic powers of flight, strength, or x-ray vision. But in real life, heroes are often determined based on the smallest of situations and their outcomes. In both of the stories I have chosen (A&P and Harrison Bergeron), the main characters are classified as heroes because of their willingness to defy the authoritive forces around them, whether it be the store manager Lengel in A&P or the Handicapper General in Harrison Bergeron, as well as their willingness to strike out on their own instead of adhering to social norms. In Harrison Bergeron, the main character Harrison stands up to a society that attempts to dull his individual qualities by ripping off his physical handicaps and temporarily liberating all of the oppressed people watching the television for a moment. In A&P, the main character stands up to his dreary, Sunday school teaching boss when he feels as though his boss has embarrassed three female customers in a grocery store. Both Harrison and the cashier pay the price for their defiance (Harrison gets killed and the cashier loses his job), and it is because of the character’s selflessness that the actions appear heroic. Both characters fit the definition of a hero, the cashier for his willingness to lose his job over what he deems an inappropriate action by his manager, and Harrison for ripping off (literally) the shackles that his society has placed on him in a fight to show his individualism. The fact that they performed these actions with no thought towards their own outcome helps outline their true heroic qualities. In the story A&P, the cashier exhibits a heroic quality when he quits his job due to a perceived insult made by his manager to three young ladies. While it first appears to be a dangerous and rash decision (quitting your job over an apparent slight made by your
Cited: 1.Updike, John. _A&P. Literature and its Writers. Ed. _Ann Charters, Samuel Charters. Bedford/St. Martins, Boston. 2009.
2.Vonnegut, Kurt. _Harrison Bergeron. Literature and its Writers. _Ed. Ann Charters, Samuel Charters. Bedford/St Martins, Boston.2009.