What Constitutes A Hero – Raymond Chandler

Word Count: 1971 |

In ‘The Simple Act of Murder‘ Raymond Chandler writes, “He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. The story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth” . ‘The Simple Act of Murder’ is a collection of short stories written by a hard-boiled detective author (Chandler). Chandler’s quote can be summed up very easily. Basically all he is saying is that a hero can be black, white, male, and people of different ethnic backgrounds. They can be tall, short and intelligent.
Looking back on Chandlers quote, a hero comes in different shapes and sizes. Athletes, parents, doctors, cops or simply a cartoon character can be labeled a hero. In a child’s eye, they look at someone saving the world and chasing the sly villain away. But it’s not always about saving lives in the world. It’s about people who can make a difference in a positive way and show that there is another side to life. For instance, people who live in poor countries or who work over-time in several jobs just to support their family. Also, people whom sacrifice there lives to come into the United States for a better life.
Joseph Campbell quotes “a hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself”. Let us examine on what is the rational meaning of the concept ‘heroism’? Who and what makes up a true hero? Does it deal with wealth, intelligence or social status? Or is just simply an average man trying to make a difference in this world that we live in? Are these heroes just in the right place, at the right time? All questions and characteristics arise from the word ‘hero’; it varies from person to person. Hero is a word that’s undefined- there is no true meaning of what the word symbolizes. I am sure everyone has daydreams of being the hero in a certain situation; where the other people can envy you and admire your bravery.
Evolution is the change of meanings and organisms through generations. The word ‘hero’ started all the back with the Greeks. In Greek culture, a hero was someone who was worshiped after their death. The heroes in general might be real or imaginary ancestors or ‘faded’ gods and goddesses. Hector and Achilles were famous objects of worship. In a hero worship, rituals were performed next to the heroes tomb; black animals were sacrificed and blood was poured. Hercules was one of the most important Greek hero- who was known for his physical strength and courage. “Although worshiped as a god, Hercules was properly a hero, frequently appealed to for protection from various evils” (factmonster.com).
“Dedication: The act of binding yourself intellectually or emotionally, to a course of action” (wordreference.com), a self-sacrificing devotion. One example of a hero that was dedicated to his job was to find a vaccine to cure a sickness. Jonas Edward Salk was a physician and a biologist who developed the first effective polio vaccine. He spent his life doing research and forming information in the research lab. He experimented on himself and his family on how this vaccine would work. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter awarded him with the highest civilian award. “Because of Doctor Jonas E. Salk, our country is free from the cruel epidemics of poliomyelitis that once struck almost yearly. Because of his tireless work, untold hundreds of thousands who might have been crippled are sound in body today. This Medal of Freedom can only express our gratitude, and our deepest thanks” (medaloffreedom.com). Later in his career, Salk devoted all his energy towards the development of an AIDS vaccine and to improve the influenza vaccine. Thanks to all his hard, dedicating work, he has saved billions of lives.
Persistence is another get characteristic of a true hero. It means that everybody will make mistakes along their journey in life but they keep on trying, focusing on their goals in life. A great example of someone who is persistent is the New York Mets player, Jose Bernabe Reyes. Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Reyes lived a very poor childhood. They barely had food on the table and no television . His love for baseball was inherited by his Father, which they would practice playing in the dirt roads. Since his father had no extra money for a baseball mitt, Reyes would either use his bare hands or make a mitt out of a milk carton. “Jose has an uncanny ability to take both his successes and setbacks in stride” (Jockbio.com). Stated before, Reyes did not have a television therefore he couldn’t look at other major league players play. All his moves and the way he plays baseball is all original. Most people don’t know the history of Mr. Reyes. His life story should be told to the younger generations. People will look up to Reyes, realizing that you don’t need the best things in life in order to accomplish your goals. Growing up in a poor neighborhood, he kept his head strong and look at him now, playing what he does best at only 24 years old. Baseball players all play good on the field- lots of hard work. These guys are under so much pressure to do perform their best and win the games. They are constantly being told to do this and do that. They bend over backwards to help as many people as they can. But they can never be too careful who they talk to, or who they let into their inner circle. What they say can be twisted and turned and now they’re on the cover of Star magazine as a ‘horrible’ person. They play game after game, day after day- and it seems to never end. But we don’t care if they are sore, or have a bad injury. We want to see them play and win the games. That’s why they are heroes, because they do their best under any circumstances.
This nationwide holiday glorifying the civil rights leader is celebrated on the third Monday in January. In 2007, the holiday fell on his birthday Jan.15- his name was Martin Luther King Jr. Why is he a hero? For the fact that he made a positive difference in the United States. He led his first boycott in 1956 to end the segregated city busses in the US. “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. Attended by some 250,000 people, it was the largest demonstration ever seen in the nation’s capital, and one of the first to have extensive television coverage” (infoplease.com). In his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech he quotes, ‘One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.’
Likewise to that speech, there was another important time in history- The Little Rock Nine. This was another very important change in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. The Little Rock Nine was a group of African- American students who were prohibited to enter the racially segregated school in Arkansas. Brown versus The Board of Ed. finally put an end to schools segregation, but it didn’t mean everyone agreed to it. When they were permitted into the school, people would verbally abuse and spit on them. Each and everyone of the African- Americans needed an escort (military soldier) to make sure they did not get attacked. Eight of the nine black students successfully ended the school year. “It was a big step towards integration and an important one, even though it caused nine brave teenagers unspeakable pain” (Watson.org). They proved to America that students of color could endure the intense hatred of the racist white students. I think that these people can be considered heroes for their bravery and for making a difference in the world. They all stood up for what they believed in; and wanted to be heard. Thanks to them, people listened and the ways of living had changed- in a positive way.
Courageousness is another great aspect of a hero. Being brave and having courage is defined as putting yourself out there to help others, as well as, being able to confront fear. They put their lives in danger just to protect and save lives of the citizens. Flight 93, was one of the four planes hijacked as part of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist attack. It was the only one that did not reach its intended target, instead crashing in Pennsylvania rather than Washington, DC. This was only because passengers tried to fight off the hijackers. They made several phone calls, and attempted to kill the hijackers and to take over the plane. They can be considered heroes because ‘they’ were the ones trying to save their lives and the others inside the plane. They dealt with the problem face to face. “The fourth plane United 93 was a story of 40 passengers who were strangers. Who sat through terrifying event. But found courage, rebelled and become hero’s. And stood united” (imdb.com). At 8:46 am was when Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Less than a half hour later Flight 175 crashed into the south tower, leaving hundreds of people seriously injured and even dead. Soon enough, both towers fell to the floor, which crushed the people who remained inside. People ran for their lives and never looked back. “When the Twin Towers were on fire and people were fleeing to safety, our hero firefighters ran to the fire” (Caruso). Not only did they serve for us but they promised their very best for our country; each and everyday. They showed a massive amount of courage beyond belief. They might not have shown fear on their face, just to make us feel safer- but that’s what they do best.
Not only did the firefighters show their highest amount of bravery, but the police department did as well. People from all over the place came to ground zero to help make things better. Cops worked around the clock to assure people that they are safe. Yet again, the troops showed an amount of courage that I could never imagine. They put our faith and lives in their own hands; and try to make the United States a peaceful place. Even with people still petitioning against the war, they still fight for them.
In conclusion, a hero consists of dedication, persistence, courageousness, and making a positive difference in the world. Not only those characteristics describe a hero, but so much more. Again, there is no definition that describes a hero. The definition of a hero changes from person to person. Heroes can be a major league baseball player, a person who found a vaccine to a sickness and it could be Martin Luther King Jr. Or it could be someone who went through a tragic event. It could deal with your religion and your beliefs, it could also consist of who you are as a person and what you have been through in life. The word hero evolved from the Greeks and the word will forever carry on through future generations.


Caruso, Kevin. “911 Firefighter Heroes”. Firefighter Heroes. 2004. 20, Nov. 2007
< http://www.firefighterheroes.com/911-firefighter-heroes.html >

Cazzens, Lisa. “Little Rock, Arkansas: Introduction”. African- American History. 1988. 18, Nov. 2007 < http://www.watson.org/~lisa/blackhistory/school- integration/lilrock/index.html >

“Hercules”. Fact Monster. 2000-2007. Pearson Education. 19, Nov. 2007 < http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/ent/A0823459.html >

“Jose Reyes Bio”. Jock Bio. 2004. Black Book Partners, LLC. 20, Nov. 2007
< http://www.jockbio.com/Bios/Reyes/Reyes_bio.html >

“March on Washington”. Info Please. 2000-2007. Pearson Education. 18, Nov. 2007
< http://www.infoplease.com/spot/marchonwashington.html >

“Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient Dr. Jonas E. Salk”. The official website of 2007. Presidential Medal of Freedom. 19, Nov. 2007
< http://www.medaloffreedom.com/JonasSalk.htm >

“Wordreference.com”. 2003. Princeton University. 19,Nov. 2007
< http://www.wordreference.com/definition/dedication >

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