What Does It Mean to Be a Hero?
We often talk about fictional characters with supernatural powers as heroes. Soldiers, firefighters, volunteers are also often called the heroes. But what really is a hero? Does heroism always require the physical strength, or are there other important qualities that define a hero? According to a Meriam-Webster Dictionary, a hero is a person who is greatly admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities. (1) Does that mean that people with outstanding personal qualities who can motivate us and change the world can be considered the heroes? Probably, yes.
A hero can be anyone we look up to. Heroes can be real or fictional, they can be someone we see every day or have met once in our life, they can be male or female, children or grown-ups. When we were young, our heroes were Robin Hood, Batman, Spiderman. Then our moms, dads, grandparents, sisters and brothers and even our pets became our heroes. We become older, more experienced, and our perceptions about heroes change. We start to think that we are surrounded by heroes, in fact. Single mothers who deny themselves food and clothes to send their children to college, couples who adopt children, a person who donates his kidney to save the brother, children who put their careers on hold to take care of their sick parents, people who sacrifice their dreams to support the loved ones, cancer patients who continue to fight for their life – these are the examples of heroes around us. (2)
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Heroes motivate us. They can do plenty of different things that inspire and stimulate others to do their best. The heroes make us find and develop our best qualities and share our experience with other people who need it. The motivation is very important for finding strengths within yourself and disclosing the prominent qualities. When we see the Red Cross volunteers, the dangers these men and women face, their extreme courage, we respect them and also want to help others. We decide to join different organizations and become the active volunteers, whether at preserving the wildlife, protecting homeless pets, or fighting with corruption. Heroes motivate us to realize our assets and make our small contribution into the good deeds. Heroes don’t only save us, they help us to save ourselves.
Heroes change the world. They love the feeling to help other people and try not to miss the opportunity to be useful and sympathetic. Heroes make sacrifices for others, no matter small or enormous ones. Very often they are not prepared for what they would experience, but always make the right and decent decisions, even in the most difficult and confusing situations. That is the main reason why they receive the respect, recognition and support for their future great deals. You also can be a hero for someone. It’s not difficult – help someone in need, defend the moral principles, be reliable and sympathetic, join the useful activities, do your best to realize your passions and follow your heart. Maybe one day someone will call you his hero.
There are more heroes around us than we think. To find them, look at your parents, neighbours and friends. You’ll find that they are great people who make sacrifices for others, use their courage to deal with the harsh realities of the modern life, don’t lose their humanity when facing challenges and always ready to help if you need. Sometimes we don’t even know about the great deeds of all those people, as heroes don’t like to share their stories. Look around and you’ll probably find your hero.
Heroes are generally people whom we admire. Anti-heroes are people who try to harm others, while true heroes are people who strive to bring goodness to our world.
What are the qualities of true heroes? Here are some to consider . . .
• strength and/or stamina
• bravery (willingness to risk one’s own safety to help others)
• independence (the willingness to do what is right despite opposition)
• intelligence (the ability to notice what is needed)
• wisdom (the ability to make good judgment calls)
Write an essay about a hero in a novel or someone from real life.
For help in choosing a hero, click HERE .
Once you’ve chosen your hero, you may follow this outline . . .
Paragraph One: Introduction
Paragraph Two: Describe one quality of your hero
Paragraph Three: Describe another quality of your hero
Paragraph Four: Describe a third quality of your hero, the most important quality
Paragraph Five: Conclusion
Here is a more detailed outline for an essay on a hero:
People talk about heroes. People admire all sorts of traits. But what are the qualities of a real hero? What are the qualities of someone who actually does good in this world? In my mind, there are three main ones: ___________ , ___________ and _________________ . And to my mind, ____________ is a person who portrays all these qualities.
____________ is the first quality that is shown by _________ , (next tell how you know this person; e.g.. ‘my best friend’, ‘a Canadian athlete’, ‘the main character in the novel Shiloh by P.R. Naylor’) _____________. (Now describe how that quality is shown in 3 to 5 sentences.) ________________________
_____________is another quality of _________ . (Describe how it is shown.) ____________
The most important quality of this hero, though, is ________________ . (Describe how it is shown. ) __________________
___________________ is, in my mind, a true hero. (Pronoun) _______ clearly shows the qualities of ___________, _______________ and ________________ . (Add a memorable and emotive concluding sentence.) ______________
• a 5 paragraph essay 1 2 3 4 5
• completed within time-limit 0 1 2
• neat, double-spaced and with proper citations 0 1 2
• powerful language 1 2 3 4 5
• accurate spelling and grammar 1 2 3
• convincing and interesting 1 2 3
Total: / 20
An example by Saniya in grade eight:
Many people have been heroes during times of war and many novels depict people with heroic behavior. Iqbal Masih in Iqbal: A Novel by Francesco D’adamo (Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2001) is one of those admirable characters.
Iqbal definitely shows compassion. He runs away from his master’s, Hussain Khan’s, carpet factory and has multiple options to regain his long deserved freedom and lost childhood. He can go back home, run away to another city and start over, or even find a job at the marketplace and try to blend in, but no; Iqbal has concern for his fellow labourers back at the carpet factory and chooses to draw attention to himself – sacrificing his chance at freedom – to ” help [himself] and his friend[s]” (72). So he goes to some police officers and reports his cruel master which ends up backfiring and getting him sent to the tomb – a traumatizing hot creepy dark place full of spiders and scorpions- for six days. Still, he has no regrets on ending up bonded after trying to help his friends. The next spring, after finally accomplishing his goal of freeing Hussain’s bonded labourers, his waterfall of compassion continues flooding Lahore. He makes a solemn declaration that despite his new freedom, and although he can do anything he pleases, he “want[s] to stay and help… free all the children in Pakistan” (91).
Iqbal shows responsibility. He has a great capability to remain calm and collected despite the hatred he has against Hussain, “The only one who remain[s] untouched by Hussain’s storm of hatred [is Iqbal]” (38).
Iqbal also shows perseverance. He tries to explain to his fellow labourers that their debt will never be erased and although they do not believe him, eventually due to his persistence, the reality faces them. Also, the first time Iqbal rebels against Hussain Khan, he is sent to the Tomb for three suffering days. This doesn’t faze him, though. His perseverance encourages him to run away from the carpet factory. When he goes on his adventure after running away for the first time, he discovers that labour is not right and that he and his friends should be freed. After he tries to get help for his factory members and fails, he still does not give up. His persistence encourages him to run away for a second time and find the anti-bondage labour activists. Eventually Iqbal’s astounding perseverance pays off and he manages to free himself, his fellow labourers, and many other bonded labourers across Pakistan.
Finally, Iqbal shows courage. It takes a lot of bravery to stand up to so many important and powerful people. He does exactly that with Hussain Khan. Knowing that his master’s capabilities are so high and that he can easily torture him, Iqbal still finds the courage within himself and decides to rebel against his master and succeeds by freeing himself and his friends. Despite his long-waited freedom, this inspiring thirteen-year-old boy decides that he will sacrifice all of the freedom that he has finally gained to help free other child labourers. Knowing that each time he invades a carpet factory, he is holding his life in his hands, he still goes willingly. As you can see, Iqbal is very courageous.
Iqbal Masih, in Iqbal: A Novel shows all these admirable traits common to heroes: compassion, responsibility, perseverance, and courage. Whether in times of peace or times of war, Iqbal Masih is an inspirational humanitarian who will be remembered forever.
[This page may be copied for use with students if the following credit is provided:
©2012 Sophie Rosen.]