December 1, 2004

John Henry...Better Off Dead?

John Henrywas a martyr and a hero, right? The question though, is whether it is possible for him to be one without the other? Would John Henry be remembered as a hero today if it weren't for the fact that he died trying to help his fellow workers and friends? Personally, I doubt it.

A hero is a person who is remembered for a great deed, and John Henry certainly performed one of those. The thing is though, that if he had lived through this, then people would have continually expected more and more out of him, and challenged would have never ceased to come his way. No matter how many challenges he succeed at, there would always, eventually, be one where he would fail. When someone who performs great deeds fails, he or she is then remembered for their failure, and put in the "has-been" list of hero's, to be remembered with scorn at best, and finally forgotten.
By dying a martyr, John Henry ensured that he would never fail in the eyes of the people he was trying to help, and therefore could never be looked upon as a failure.

He was a hero because he was a martyr, and without his death the heroics he performed would never handed down long enough to still be remembered today.

Posted by PaulCrossman at December 1, 2004 9:24 PM

Actually I think he should have stayed alive. I think it might not have helped his reputation or story as much, but it would have progressed the african-americans into a social rebellion instead of working harder to fight technology. The social rebellion would have lead to a more powerful social reform, because either way the Africans were still seen as just machines, whether they did the job or machines did.

Posted by: StephanPuff at December 2, 2004 7:19 PM

And how exactly would John Henry's staying alive have contributed to a "powerful social rebellion" moreso than his death would have? His death would have stirred his counterparts to greater measures of rebellion than his life ever would have. You were so close to making a point...

Posted by: Paul Crossman at December 7, 2004 8:41 PM
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