Heroes Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Rachel Kadish has some interesting observations on the nature of heroes in children’s books of the past versus today in “Childhood Heroes: Once Self-Made, Now to the Manner Born.”  She feels that heroes of the past were often suffering from PTSD (really!)

With a few notable exceptions, the formula is identical: Trauma is the mechanism through which superpower is acquired. It’s the very act of surviving hardship (often cataclysmic in scale) that shapes those gloriously intimidating figures into something they never were before.

Whereas she posits,

Today’s new heroes are to the manner born, and while they may spend a few scenes living in obscurity, they’re soon unveiled as members of the elect.

I think it is an interesting observation. What do you all think?  (BTW, there are some good points made in the comments, e.g. Katniss being self-made.)


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2 responses to “Heroes Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

  1. Carrie Pomeroy

    I agree with a lot of what Kadish had to say, though I thought the superheroes she cited as “forged by trauma” weren’t the best point of contrast. What really bothers me is what I think of as “Hermione syndrome”–in the Harry Potter series, the LEGO Movie, Kung Fu Panda, and the Percy Jackson series, a hard-working, persistent female character gets bypassed and relegated to the role of supporter to a guy who just comes in and kind of inherits the mantle of savior of the world. That’s the dynamic I find annoyingly prevalent and problematic.


  2. Thanks for sharing this article – that was really thought-provoking and useful! I find today’s heroes very problematic for these and other reasons, and enjoyed hearing another take on the issue.

    I see Ms. Pomeroy’s point, that Hermione is to a large extent self-made, but she was also born with her magical powers. She put a lot more work into developing them than did Harry and Ron, but she did inherit them.


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