5-18 Powell's City of Books, World's Largest Indie Bookstore by Judith Ashley and Sarah Raplee

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Super Hero - Average Looks, Big Heart...

by Shobhan Bantwal
author of The Reluctant Matchmaker and other books

Handsome looks, assertive personalities, and bold exploits are typically the stuff romance novel heroes are made of. Even the bad boys are somehow lovable because of their naughty-yet-innately good qualities. So, are men with average looks and subdued dispositions likely to be labeled 'heroes' in romance novels? Most likely not.

However, perhaps because I was born and raised in India, a traditional culture that places more emphasis on practical matters such as family values, job security, and fidelity over appearance and personality, it is no surprise that my favorite fictional hero is Atticus Finch of Harper Lee's old classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.

An "Average Joe" when it comes to physical looks, Atticus is in every other aspect a true hero in my humble opinion. In my own books, my lead male characters are rather nondescript, and yet it is their generosity and caring nature that makes them heroes.

A young widower struggling to raise two young children in a conservative small town in the deep South of the 1930s, Atticus embodies everything that is decent, unbiased, kind, and supremely courageous. As a young Caucasian lawyer defending a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman, he is keenly aware of the repercussions of his actions in a race-torn southern town, he nonetheless sticks to his principles. He is a shining role model, an ideal husband and father.

And yet, to the young women of his time, his marital and family status combined with his liberal ideas on racial equality and justice might be the very traits that are unromantic and not quite so sexy.

Nevertheless, Atticus is my ideal hero.

Tell us about your favorite fictional heroes and why you love them so much by posting your comments.

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Paty Jager said...

I'm with you Shobhan, a hero doesn't have to be drop dead gorgeous. He has to have traits that endear me to him. I never really have clear vision of the heroes I read about in books, because I make them my own version that I can relate to. I've always felt uncomfortable about the arrogant, tough, good-looking males. So I tend to go for the average Joe who has a good sense of humor, is kind to others, and likes animals.

Shobhan Bantwal said...

Thanks for the comment, Paty. There is something to be said for ordinary guys who are extraordinary in their generosity and capacity for love. Glad we agree on that!

Sarah Raplee said...

My favorite fictional hero is Julian Cash from Alice Hoffman's magical romantic thriller, Turtle Moon. He was born so ugly bees wouldn't sting him, but he grows into a policeman with moral integrity and the capacity for great love.

Great post!

Judith Ashley said...

Good point! Not all movie stars are 'movie star handsome' but there is something about them that draws the viewer. I think that is true about the hero and heroine on the page.

I don't really care about the character's looks but I do care about their character.

Thanks for reminding me about Atticus Finch. And although not a fictional character, I count Abraham Lincoln as a hero of mine. And while I do not see him as handsome, I do find him compelling...

Shobhan Bantwal said...


Yes, Julian Cash is indeed a great hero. Thanks for the comment and reminding me of Julian.

Shobhan Bantwal said...


Abe Lincoln was a true hero in so many ways, especially since he led an entire nation into a new way of thinking. Good comment.