Many great literary novels have the protagonist, t

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Many great literary novels have the protagonist, the main character of the novel, being portrayed as the "hero". There are many different deeds and actions that can characterize a person as a hero such as saving someone from a burning house at the risk of one's own life. The main distinguishing characteristic of a true hero is self-sacrifice, whether it be scarifice of your own personal desires or ideals or sacrifice of physical well being to help others. There are a few novels in which the main character of the work does not exemplify the deeds and thought of a true hero. Two such works include Stephen Cranes' The Red Badge of Courage and Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.
Both The Red Badge of Courage and A Farewell to Arms have war as the background of the story. War is the perfect setting in which one can be tested to see if he or she is a hero. This idea is the major framework of The Red Badge of Courage, in which Henry Fleming aspires to be a man, a "hero" in the eyes of the masses by enlisting in the army. Henry's goal of returning a man from war has already marred his image of being a potential hero because his thoughts are about himself and not about the welfare of others. Also, the fact that he wants to impress people and appear heroic is a selfish aspiration. Heroes act not to impress others but to help them. Usually the actions of a hero are impulsive and not premeditated because the hero does what he/she believes is right and what their heart tells them is right and not what others judge is right.
In The Red Badge of Courage, Henry is preoccupied about whether or not he's going to run when it comes time to fight. After the second skirmish, the readers find out that he does indeed run from battle but that's not what makes him a non-hero. It's the fact that he tries to rationalize and justify his running. He says that his running is "... not a fault, a shameful thing; it was an act obedient to a law." He also uses nature to justify his running such as when he throws something at a squirrel and it runs away. He's also egotistical when he says that his running away was done with "dignity" as compared to the others who ran like cowards. To make matters worse, after Henry is rejoined with his regiment, he lies about getting separated from the regiment and with the aid of a fradulent head wound, his story is not questioned by others. But Henry's mind is always full of thoughts of how to save himself embarrassment that he even ...