Definition of a Hero


David Brin’s The Postman


Postman Essay; Definition of a Hero


The term “hero” is often used loosely to describe the protagonist of a story. Sometimes, however, it is not clear whether this prestigious title is actually befitting that character. In order to more accurately decide whether the term “hero” behooves a specific character, we must look at the definition of a hero, in general. A hero is defined as a man of courage and nobility who is famed and admired for his achievements or noble qualities. Often, a hero embarks on a large journey with virtuous and righteous goals. Qualities present in heroes often include strong ethics, high moral standards, and self-sacrifice for the well-being of others. Additionally, the path of a hero usually involves a difficult quest or trial from which the hero emerges on a higher level and may reflect this triumph upon his society in order to improve it.


The Postman clearly illustrates how all these traits apply to Gordon Krantz. One may conclude from the book that Gordon truly embodies the definition of a hero. On a somewhat more subtle level, the story also relates the heroic qualities of Dena Spurgen who also rightly deserves status of a heroine. Both these characters personify the traits of a hero outlined by its definition.


The heroic traits of both courage and nobility are attributed to Gordon in the opening pages of the novel. When Gordon encounters a band of robbers, he quickly makes the correct judgment in deciding to retreat. Although this may not seem courageous, courage must be used in conjunction with wits. In the same position, a stupid but courageous person may have tried to defend himself forcefully. Such a decision would have meant the end for Gordon; he was not prepared for battle and attempting to fight would have been futile. Alternatively, without courage, he could have just surrendered and not even risked being mistaken as a hostile which would invariably put him in danger of losing his life. Instead of either of these options, Gordon chooses to make a courageous stand and he flees into the bushes to a position from which he can try to negotiate. This action also reflects Gordon’s nobility and an allegiance to a lofty set of morals. Gordon was armed with his revolver; if he so willed, Gordon could have shot at least one of the robbers and then fled. As opposed to resorting to violence, Gordon expresses his loath to kill anyone and instead uses his vantage point for an attempt at non -violent reconciliation.


Throughout the book Gordon demonstrated the quality of exceptional leadership. Although, he did not think of himself as one, Gordon turned out to be a fantastic leader and role model. Such traits are often found among the qualities that comprise the personality of a hero. Gordon employed an unusual form of leadership. While many leaders attempt to lead or govern by actively promoting their ideas, Gordon led by example. All Gordon had to do was demonstrate what the right way was and people tended to be influenced by his high moral standards. For example, in Oakridge, at the dogfight, all Gordon had to do was show how he felt about the lack of ethics being exhibited and his sentiment was emulated by most of the crowd. This influence that Gordon had the ability to wield was a result of his heroic courage and nobility. In this case, however, the courage was not the type of courage used in war; Gordon had the courage to resist the inexorable avalanche on the mountain of society. This inner strength was reflected upon the people of Oakridge and the other people he met on his journey. The story of a reborn postal service and Restored United States that motivated cities wherever Gordon would rest were believable coming from Gordon because he exhibited these heroic qualities.


The idea of self-sacrifice on behalf of others is also something that Gordon obviously upholds. Until the beginning of the story, Gordon was content to live on his own, surviving in the wilderness during his treks between towns. However, once the idea of a rekindling of the Holnist threat to the Oregon territory reaches his ears, Gordon is