Fantasy Friday — Blaggards and Heros

Please take a moment to help determine the April CSFF Top Blogger Award winner. Round one ends next Wednesday.

And speaking of the April tour, one more participant has posted about Blaggard’s Moon. Stop by Reviews Plus and see what Caleb has to say.

I’ve been thinking about something since I read Chawna’s post, Heroic Heroes in which she expresses a desire for heroic heroes in fiction, ones that will be models for us, that will challenge us to live better, truer, more generously, more nobly.

While I agree that in each of us is the desire for a heroic hero to show up and save us (even as some, like the drowning man with a would-be rescuer, fight Him off when He comes), I wonder about putting heroic heroes into our fiction.

As I see it, the world is propagating the belief that Mankind is good. A common theme in fiction, from TV to children’s books, is that all we have to do is reach down inside us and become who we are capable of becoming.

So I wonder, if a Christian writes a story with a heroic hero, won’t it look so much like that message of the world that readers may miss the point?

Personally, I thought Blaggard’s Moon author, George Bryan Polivka, did a wonderful job creating a type of Christ (“a person or thing symbolizing or exemplifying the ideal or defining characteristics of something”).


Damrick Fellows rescued Jenta. He loved her and was willing to give his life to her even though he thought she deserved death.

Then she raised the pistol, and aimed it at him.

Damrick shook his head. His mind turned. She was a pirate, then. She had a gun. So did he. The oaths he’d made others take, his calling, his mission, justice, the law, even his instincts…all led him to one single conclusion. She should die.

Jenta clicked back the pistol’s hammer. Her eyes were empty and dark.

…He made his choice. Without taking his eyes off her, he set his pistol on the bar.

“I’m not leaving you to him,” he told her.

To me, that’s a type of Christ. Loving us, making the church His bride.

Of course, in the story, Damrick later tells Jenta that she saved him. So the character found personal redemption that was not associated with his representative act of salvation.

Personally, I find this to be heroic and true, without giving the world’s message that heroism is within each one of us, if we just follow an example or dig down deep and become like the one we emulate.

Maybe the story isn’t quite as satisfying, but that’s as it should be too, I think. Because we won’t find true satisfaction in this life or apart from Christ. We will continue to long. And hope.

A story that shows that part of life seems to me to be the truest kind.

Published in: on April 24, 2009 at 10:33 am  Comments (6)  
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  1. Ultimately, I think we need both kinds of characters to create the full picture, to represent the many facets of God. Without either, something good and beautiful would be lost.

    Because of my place in life, I tend to connect easier with the heroic hero. But whether heroic (the Daniels of life) or redemptive (the Peters), most characters should have redeemable qualities and be likeable on some level, especially at the beginning. That was the point I had been trying to make in my posts, obviously without success.

    In the case of Damrick, I never connected with him: his negative qualities had pushed me so far away, I think the types of Christ were lost on me. Even in the excerpt you quoted I saw an arrogance that turned me off. So perhaps something in my head was skeptical and wondered if his sacrificial acts were truly sacrificial and his love a true agape love, like would be present in a type of Christ.

    Truthfully, I’m not really sure what all went through my head. Something didn’t ring true to me in the characters, and that’s what prompted the blog on heroic heroes. Maybe I’m completely off target. Who knows? I try to give balanced and honest views. But they’re still just my opinion.

    Anyway, thanks for being willing to challenge my thoughts, Becky, and for giving us all something to chew on.


  2. I can tell you that I did not intend for Damrick as a character to be a type of Christ, for many of the reasons Chawna mentions. He is deeply flawed in a way that makes him a great worldly hero but falls far short of the Kingdom criteria laid out in the Sermon on the Mount. He does however rise to great heights in the scene Becky quotes, and finds his own redemption in an act of mercy that clearly does reflect God’s love for us… for we are all pirates, and have made Delaney’s choice whether in big or small ways. Any human hero must therefore be a redemptive hero, whether that is obvious to others or not. A view into Daniel’s heart would, I believe, find a David who knows the depth of his own depravity. Or else he could not be a hero worth emulating in any way but the most exterior and surface way, in my opinion. Great discussion, thanks!


  3. […] LuElla Miller, who heads up the CSFF Blog Tour, commented on Chawna’s post earlier today with a counterargument : As I see it, the world is propagating the belief that Mankind is good. A common theme in fiction, […]


  4. I don’t connect with heroes who are too perfect, who only and always do the right thing, and always with the right attitude. It is possible, after all, to do the right thing from the wrong motive, or the wrong thing from a good motive, and so on.

    Yeah, Mr. Fellows wasn’t perfect, but — as a reader — I was totally on board with him (no pun intended) for the whole story. He was believable and understandable, so I gave no thought to whether or not he was a character I could buy into.

    If we look for perfection in others here on earth, we will be consistently disappointed. However, as writers, if we can look instead to the goals — the desire to be good and to do good, the desire to help others, to overcome ourselves and other obstacles, etcetera — I think we can craft characters who strive for excellence or for commendable goals while still maintaining their humanity.

    After all, in the real world, we may strive for moral purity or to live godly lives, and yet we may often fail. The failing doesn’t negate the striving or the greatness of the goal.

    If we apply too much demand for perfection or for the “heroic”, we start to expect characters in books, or other human beings in our lives, to live up to an arbitrary standard we set. If someone (real or imaginary) doesn’t live up to our expectations, well, too bad. We write them off.

    Not cool.

    There’s a character in my SF serial that drives a friend crazy. She thinks he’s too contained, too arrogant, and she wants him to break down and spill his guts. The more he acts like himself, the more my friend grits her teeth. This encourages me. He’s not a bad character; he’s just real.


  5. I also think having clay feet doesn’t disqualify someone from being a hero. What counts is not where he starts, but where he got to, character-wise.

    Also, I can identify pretty well with someone who isn’t perfect, since I’m not.


  6. Here is one thought sparked by Becky’s comments: a hero who is haunted by his own past failures to live up even to the ideals he himself professes. His every action in the story as it unfolds may be wholly admirable — including his living up to the consequences of his past failures — but there need be no temptation to idolize him as an unreal icon of human perfection. After all, isn’t that (as Phyllis says) exactly where many of us find ourselves? Picking up after failures and trying to do the right thing from this point on?

    Such characters do come up sometimes in great literature, and they are often very memorable. Think of Sidney Carton toward the end of A Tale of Two Cities.


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