What Makes a Hero Essay Example: Visible Ink vs. Flying in the Face of the Fuhrer

Heroes are an essential role in society and throughout history. Each person defines a hero in different ways, and many different things make a hero. Nikki Giovanni’s, “Visible Ink” believes the meaning of a hero is not the knight in shining armor, but rather the people who do ordinary things are the most heroic. On the other hand, “Flying in the Face of Fuhrer” by Phil Taylor tells the story of Jesse Owens, an African Americans runner who proved Hitler’s idea of Aryan supremacy wrong. Both texts, “Flying in the Face of Fuhrer” and “Visible Ink” both show their ideas of what makes a hero.

Visible Ink

To begin, “Visible Ink” by Nikki Giovanni believes ordinary people doing heroic things makes a true hero. Throughout the poem, she gives many examples of heroes known in today’s society. She discusses Superman and all his heroic actions. However, she believes that ordinary people doing ordinary things are most heroic, the ordinary things that may not seem heroic, but actually are. She explains that most heroes are the ones who live day after day, not being acknowledged as heroes. This can be shown on lines 17-18 where Giovanni explains, “The greatest heroes probably have no idea...how heroic they are 18” (Giovanni 17-18). Giovanni explores the idea of heroism by showing that heroes are usually not what they seem.

She believes that the heroes that do the ordinary things that must be done are the ones that should be applauded, the people that sacrifice their time and money for someone else. Doing something as simple as volunteer work may not seem as heroic as saving people’s lives, but this is far from true. Giovanni believes that true strength and bravery comes from determination and doing the right thing, not the stereotypical superhero. Moreover, this view of heroism is further shown when Giovanni discusses the small, everyday chores as heroic. Even though the typical hero is shown as brave and fearless, Giovanni believes the ordinary daily heroes show the same amount of courage. This is shown when Giovanni writes, “Most people think of heroes as saving children from flaming buildings or pulling housewives from automobile wrecks...but it is...indeed...heroic to pay one's bills at the end of the month...to go to church on Sundays and sing in the choir...to referee a softball game or teach some child to make apple cobbler” (Giovanni 19-22).

Giovanni is implying that heroes can be the flashy superstars, while they can also be the average person. The heroes can be the ones saving people, but still the average everyday people who do their taxes, go to church, and more can be seen as heroes. She sees the people who partake in the ordinary things as heroes, even more so than the stereotypical superhero. Ultimately, Giovanni believes that doing the things day to day and the simple things truly make a hero.

Flying in the Face of the Fuhrer

Furthermore, “Flying in the Face of Fuhrer” by Phil Taylor tells the story of Jesse Owens, a black athlete in the 1930s that fought against Hitler and believes that determination and doing your fullest in the hardest of situations makes a hero. Even though Jesse was hated by Hitler and many others, he was determined and trained to overcome the social standards during that time. During this time, African Americans were often discriminated against during this time period, but that did not stop Owens. He had overcome the struggles of being black by winning four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics. His determination is seen on page one. Taylor writes, “As he raced past his competitors he was more idea than man, a charcoal rebuttal to Nazi notions of Aryan supremacy” (Taylor 1). Taylor explores Owens’ heroism in the face of Hitler. Hitler had seen black people as inferior, that they could not compare to Aryans.

When Taylor says, “Charcoal rebuttal,” he means the African Americans’  retaliation against Hitler’s linear and discriminative mindset against them and many others. Along the same idea, Taylor shows that the determination to try the hardest you can, even in difficult situations creates a hero. Owens after winning many medals, had lost much of his fame. Taylor shows the meaning of a true hero by showing Owen’s determination even after he had become unseen and his will to defy Hitler’s ideals. Taylor states, “Failure would not just humiliate him, it would also give credence to the vile theories of Hitler...," (Taylor 1).  Taylor is showing Owens’ determination to succeed and win against Hitler, even in his difficult and struggling situation. When Owens had won the four medals, the world had realized that Hitler’s idea of Aryan supremacy was far from true, and caused many to follow in his footsteps. Given these points, Phil Taylor believes that succeeding and being determined no matter the situation one is in or the people against you makes a hero. He tells the story of a hero, Jesse Owens, since he was determined to win against Hitler and had defied many racial boundaries during that time.

In summation, “Visible Ink” by Nikki Giovanni and “Flying in the Face of the Fuhrer” by Phil Taylor have different ideas on what truly makes a hero. Giovanni believes that doing daily ordinary things makes a hero, while Taylor believes a true hero is made by determination and trying your hardest no matter who opposes you. Heroes have been shown throughout history in many different ways. They  are necessary in our society, and life would be much different without them.



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