Sunday, March 13, 2011

The unlikely hero?

In today's society, a lot of emphasis is placed upon the physical attributes of a person.  When a person is physically fit or attractive, the general consensus is he/she must be a good person; yet, in fact looks has nothing to do with the true character of a person.  There is also a tendency to believe that people who may not be so physically fit or lack a certain 'look' will somehow lack strength or grace when dealing with a crisis or 'not so' ideal situations. 

However, some of my favorite literary and movie characters are the ones who come in and save the day when all hell breaks loose and they don't exactly have the Hugh Jackman or Brad Pitt sex appeal. 

One particular character is Simon Birch.  The movie title also carries the same name of this unforgettable character.  Simon is a 12 year old boy with dwarfism; yet, his lack of height doesn't deter his inner strength.  It most definitely doesn't represent the monumental size of his compassionate heart or standing up for his strong convictions.  If you haven't seen this movie, I urge you to watch it.  Simon Birch's true strength shines through especially when it's needed most and he saves the lives of many children.  Sadly, Simon's little body betrays him in the end.

Some others which come to mind are Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee from 'Lord of the Rings'. Both hobbits exhibit extraordinary courage and strength in the face of true evil while on their journey to Mordor.  Their persistence with continuing their horrific tasks saves Middle-earth.

Alexandra Ivy's Guardian of Eternity Series includes a flirty French gargoyle named Levet.  This off beat character doesn't exude the menacing presence of a gargoyle, hell, he doesn't even have the massive size which the rest of his family exhibits.  However, his quick humor and sometimes effective magic has come in handy on several occasions when the powerful vampires or Weres are stuck in some type of bind.  Yeah, they really hate being rescued by the 'vertically challenged' and magical gargoyle but it's quite amusing for the readers.

These characters may not have the Hollywood good looks, but they each possess a beautiful essense within their souls.  Their not so perfect bodies contribute to the inner strength and courage which they need in order to save the day.

So what are some of your favorite unlikely heroes?


  1. I love the movie Simon Birch! Another movie I loved was Pay It Forward. I just can't remember the characters name of the boy in that movie. Harry Potter comes to mind, too. He's a complete underdog who bumbles around trying to figure out how to do things right.

    You are so right, JD - a true hero is proven by his character. Great post!

  2. Good post, JD. Very thoughtful look at what really makes a hero. I can't think of an underdog--or anti-hero right now on the level of the Simon Birch example. There are a couple of unlikely heroes I enjoy, such as Justin de Quincy, from Sharon Kay Penman's medieval mysteries. Justin is a bastard searching for his father when he seemingly falls into solving a murder and subsequently becoming an agent for Queen Eleanor. Then of course there's Brother Cadfael, a medieveal monk who's an unlikely sleuth, yet manages to solve all sorts of crimes in the Ellis Peters' series.

    Thanks for making us think :)

  3. Sorry for not posting sooner JD. I just got my internet back today! I love the hobbits in Lord of the Rings! It just goes to show that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. I haven't seen Simon Birch before, but I will have to check that one out.

  4. JD,

    Just realized I posted you blog to FB, but didn't comment here. As Kasey said, heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Thanks for reminding us that even underdogs can be heroes.

  5. JD,

    Nice topic and great way to make us think of the not so obvious answer to 'hero' questions. I have never seen Simon Birch, but I have seen LOTR.

    This gives us new insight and a new direction to look towards as we write. If it is a different curve than any other writers than we can be unique. :)


  6. Oh Trish, you have to see Simon Birch. My favorite underdog in a movie is River Phoenix's character in Stand By Me. Can still hear his raspy voice saying "Not if I see you first."
    Great show, and great post, JD.

    Love ya,