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Literary Response – Sec.4

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1 Literary Response – Sec.4
Sample Answers – Act of a Hero Literary Response – Sec.4

2 MEANING Be sure to clearly state the intended audience. If you can, explain WHY this is the audience (vocabulary, content...) Purpose: Wants us to think about _____. Message: What the author says about _____. Be sure to back up the message with at least 2 quotes or specific examples, and analyze them. Don’t be basic... Try to explain as best you can, in depth, and connect them back to your meaning.

3 MEANING (EX.1) Act of a Hero, by Hugh Garner, is a short story written for teenagers and adults at least 15 and older. This text was written to make us think about our everyday actions. The author’s main messages is that nobody is perfect – even heroes – because in most situations we think about ourselves. A true hero does not exist, because to be a real hero means not to worry about yourself or what other people are thinking, and only to care about the person you are trying to help, and as humans that almost impossible. In the story, we see that it is not always easy being a hero when the main character says to himself, during the fire, “The one time in my life when I have courage, I have none!” (76). When people are faced with life or death situations, they will usually only think about themselves in the beginning, and only after the time has passed will they realize they should have done something about it. “He was no longer forced to make a decision, and he backed away from the flames” (77). At the end of the story , George doesn’t consider himself to be a hero, because even though he went into the school to save his kids, he had no olan of saving anyone else. Once he realized that his kids weren’t in the burning building, and that the situation no longer affected him personally, he wanted to leave, and he only saved the two children, not because he wanted to help them, but only so that he wouldn’t look bad coming out empty handed. This connects to the author’s main idea because George only went into the school for his kids, and even though that’s a good thing, he went in there for a personal reason, but caring about any of the other children or their parents.

4 MEANING (EX.2) A hero can be anyone because anyone is capable of doing a heroic act. Act of a Hero is a short story by Hugh Garner, intended generally for older/mature teens. This text was written to make us think about heroes, and what it may mean to be a hero. If you do something heroic for a selfish reason, it does not really make you a hero. In this short story, George Elsworth runs inside a burning school to save his children, but when he remembers his kids are not at school, “he had to accomplish something to justyify his frightened return to the outside” (77). Had he known his children were not at school, he wouldn not have gone into the school; at first he was not going to save the two little girls from the fire, because they weren’t in “immediate danger” – he only took them to make his frantic run from the school justified. You also see how he does not want to be considered a hero because he doesn’t want to give an interview, and when he’s home he throws the paper to the floor, not wanting to see it (the headline calling him a hero). When asked why, he doesn’t answer – “it was an unanswerable question. It was a question he wouldn’t be able to answer for the rest of his life” (78). Essentiallyit’s telling us that for the rest of his life, he’ll be questioning his title as hero because he would not have gone in if his kids weren’t there, and after he realized they weren’t, he was going to leave and not save anyone.


When you make the connection, explain both the issue/text, AND refer back to the main story. With the world issue, BE SPECIFIC. Don’t be general. For example, don’t just connect to “Racism”. Connect to “The American South during the Jim Crow Laws”, or “South Africa under Apartheid”.

Act of a Hero shows several strong connections with the world issue of selfishness, and with the Hunger Games. As stated before, anyone is capable of heroic acts. In the world, people are selfish for titles, and are often given one that’s not deserved. It is very easy to give someone the title of hero because everyone has their own meaning for it, but a hero must do something that helps other. A person will claim to be a hero for doing something they should have already been doing. Sure, if you do something selfish, it could seem heroic, but you and a few other people who know the truth will know that you’re not [...] George only ran into the burning school to save his kids and the only reason he saved the two little girls was so he did not look like a lunatic. People [especially celebrities] often donate large amounts of money just to be publically recognized, but they get called heroes. Justin Bieber is one example of getting an underserved title. Bieber is currently selling the cans he used for graffiti on Ebay in order to donate the money to the Philippines, instead of just donating his own money, which he has so much of. So many girls view him as a hero, but he’s really not.

Another connection can be made to the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. In this novel, Katniss Everdeen is sent to the Hunger Games and wins. Afterwards she’s recognized as a hero by the Capital and some of the people in her district. However, all she did was save her own life and tried not to murder others when possible; she’s no hero, especially not to herself, because all she did was endure and survive, as anyone might. Likewise, George only went into the burning school to save his kids, and any other parent would have done the same thing.

9 CODES AND CONVENTIONS Be sure to properly identify and define the devices. Give a clear example. Explain why this particular device was used... Be specific ... Avoid generalities (this metaphor lets the reader see the story more clearly). If analyzing a metaphor, why was that metaphor chosen? What does it add to the story?

10 Example 1 An important literary device that is used in the story is FLASHBACK. Flashback is when the author stops the story to describe something that happened in the past. “This morning at breakfast, Barry had asked ‘Can I go out in the truck with you this afternoon, Daddy?’” (76). This device affects the story because once George realizes that his children aren’t in school, that completely takes away his personal motivation to be in that dangerous situation. He is really tested as a hero, and then we see he tries to leave, and only saves the other two kids so that he won’t look bad coming out of the burning building empty-handed.

11 Example 2 Another important literary device used in the text is IRONY. Irony is the use of words that mean the opposite of what is really meant. “A headline over the story of the fire [...] read ‘The Act of a Hero’” (78). This device also affects the text because the author’ main message is that heroes don’t really exist, and that human have a very difficult time putting others before themselves, and this irony affects the text and the reader because it makes them think more about what the author is really trying to say. It’s ironic how, throughout the story, they make the main character seem like a hero, and the title of the story is Act of a Hero, when really, the main character does nothing truly heroic in the story – he really gives in to his fear. Flashback and Irony are two important literary devices that can be found in the text.

12 Example 3 Literary devices are a writer’s tools to enhance a text. In Act of a Hero, Hugh Garner uses multiple literary devices, one of which is Imagery. Imagery is a devices that makes the text seem realistic, and helps the readers get a better grasp of what the characters see, smell, hear, etc. One example of imagery is used to describe George – “Above his smooth, 30 year-old face his ski cap was pushed back to release a few taffy colored curls which hung on his forehead like a boy” (75). The author uses this exact example ot show that even though George is supposed to be a courageous man, he wears his hair like a boy. A man who we later see is cowardly like a boy wears his hair like such. It’s like the author is trying to show us an image of George’s personality that a man would usually never want us to see.

13 JUDGMENT Explain strengths and weaknesses.
Don’t just repeat what you’ve already said. Bring in new ideas (another literary device? A problem you found? A scene you thought was effective) If you can, include a quote from the text that you haven’t yet used. Think about adding a 3rd literary device here…

14 Is this a good example? I thought that this text was well written. The story’s message is very important for the intended audience, and it was delivered very clearly. The author’s use of literary devices was effective, and really helped the story to come to life. Overall, I would recommend this story, because the writing was strong, the characters were interesting, and the message is something we can all apply to our life.

15 The previous example has no direct reference to the story… it could be about ANY story!
Make your judgement paragraph specific, and use at least 2 examples or quotes from the story!


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