Compare and Contrast Essay on Heroism of Main Characters of Novel 'The Natural' and the Movie 'School Ties'

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The well-known tennis player Arthur Ashe once said: “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost”. These words of Arthur Ashe are contrary to the beliefs of Roy Hobbs from Bernard Malamud’s ‘The Natural’, whose only ambition in life is to be “the best there ever was in the game” (Malamud, p.26). Thus, it is evident that a hero cannot be defined by the superficial values of a person, but must be defined by what is below the surface. For this reason, David Greene from the movie ‘School Ties’ is more of an American hero than Roy Hobbs. While both Greene and Hobbs have gone through many challenges in their lives, Greene faces more adversity than Hobbs, as he has been a minority for his entire life and has had to deal with the setbacks of racism and discrimination that are associated with it. Although Greene is the only Jewish student at St. Matthew’s, a Christian preparatory school, he is the reason St. Matthew’s football team is finally able to beat their arch-rival school, St. Luke’s. Lastly, unlike Hobbs, who lets his personal flaws corrupt his heroic characteristics, Greene maintains his integrity and moral compass throughout the entirety of the movie.

First of all, David Greene was born and raised in the town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, not as privileged as the students he meets at St. Matthew’s. At one point in the movie, Greene’s love interest, Sally Wheeler, mentions something about owning a cabin in Maine, and Greene is completely shocked by this. He is not used to being surrounded by people with so much affluence. Greene also grew up as a Jew, and even when he is in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he encounters anti-Semitism. When he arrives at St. Matthew’s, he is told by his football coach to hide the fact that he is Jewish from the other students. When the antagonist of the film, Charles Dillon, finds out that Greene is Jewish, he spreads this information and Greene experiences even more hate and bullying than he does at home. A Nazi flag with the words ‘Go home Jew’ is hung over Greene’s bed, and his former friends start verbally tormenting him as well. At St. Matthew’s, Greene is faced with the task of standing up for his religion and overcoming this adversity. The ability to overcome challenges and adversity throughout one’s life is a characteristic that all heroes must possess. Greene exemplifies this characteristic far better than Hobbs does.

Roy Hobbs has also faced adversity in his life, but he has not been able to recover from it as well as Davis Greene has. For example, when Hobbs is talking to Iris Lemon on their date, Hobbs says: “I was just a kid and I got shot by this batty dame on the night before my tryout, and after that I just couldn’t get started again” (Malamud, p.142). Hobbs is referring to when he first tried to play professional baseball when he was 19 and made a poor decision which resulted in him getting shot, but it has taken him 16 years to return back to the big stage. This reflection on Hobbs’ past emphasizes his struggle to surmount the obstacles in his life.

Furthermore, David Greene is a physical hero to many during his senior year at St. Matthew’s. Greene is the starting quarterback for the football team, and is the sole reason St. Matthew’s is able to beat their rival school, St. Luke’s. In the final seconds of the close game, Greene learns from a mistake he made earlier in the game and listens to his coach’s play call, which results in a touchdown for St. Matthew’s and ultimately a win. The fans of St. Matthew’s were long awaiting someone to lead their football team to success, and Greene was the hero they desperately needed.

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On the other hand, Roy Hobbs is never truly a hero to his fans because he does not lead his baseball team, the New York Knights, to success. For example, Hobbs has a chance to win the National League pennant when the playoff game is on the line, and he is up to bat, but he strikes out and they end up losing. Roy also gets into an extended slump that limits the success of the Knights. When Hobbs is talking to Pop Fisher, the manager of the Knights, Fisher warns Hobbs about Memo Paris, the girl Hobbs is pursuing, and says: “She is not really a bad person, yet she is unlucky and always has been and I think there is some kind of whammy in her that carries her luck to other people. That’s why I would like you to watch out and not get too tied up with her' (Malamud, p.114). Roy ignores this warning, and inevitably ends up in a slump that drops the Knights’ ranking in the standings. If Roy had listened to Pop, there would not have been a playoff game to determine the victor of the pennant, as the Knights were in a clear first place. This defiance by Hobbs shows that not only does Hobbs let his fans down, but he also has personal issues that deduct from his heroic qualities.

Finally, David Greene displays integrity, as he does not cheat in any sports or anything at school, and treats the women in his life with respect. Although Greene is accused of cheating on an exam, he is ultimately proven innocent. He is originally accused just because of the fact that he is Jewish, but his respectable, honest, and humble character inspired another student to speak out for him and prove his innocence. Even though he does not tell the other students that he is Jewish, this lack of communication does not mean he is liar, because he was never asked. When Sally Wheeler tells Greene that they cannot kiss because she does not want to continue their relationship, Greene respects this and stops trying to kiss her immediately. A true hero is someone who has all of the characteristics.

On the contrary, Hobbs’ personal flaws are what truly limit him from being a hero. An American hero treats women with respect, something Hobbs does not do as he harasses and assaults women numerous times throughout the novel. This behavior is shown in the novel when he is talking to Memo Paris and “he turned his hand and slipped it through the top of her dress into her loose brassiere, cupping her warm small breast in his palm” (Malamud, p.108). Paris tells Hobbs to stop, so he does, but he is very reluctant and makes her feel bad for telling him to stop. This behavior is unacceptable, and it is preposterous that Roy could be hailed a hero after doing something like this.

In addition, Hobbs is also a man of very little integrity. Before entering the playoff game, Hobbs decides to make a deal with a big-time gambler and the co-owner of the New York Knights to throw the game. Hobbes is reluctant at first, but “After a minute Roy said slowly, ‘I will take the pitch’” (Malamud, p.191). Hobbes is eventually compelled to take the pitch because of the amount of money that he will receive. This deal with the Judge shows how close Hobbs is to being a true American hero, but how his greed and dishonesty limit how much of a hero he can actually be.

In the end, Roy Hobbs’ personal flaws are what ultimately restrict him from being more of an American hero than David Greene. Similarly to what Arthur Ashe said, heroism isn’t found on the surface, rather it is found in true character of people, like the ability to overcome adversity, making positive changes in the world, and having integrity, not just hoping to be “the best there ever was in the game” (Malamud, p.26). Overall, it is evident that Greene is much more heroic than Roy Hobbs will ever be.

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Compare and Contrast Essay on Heroism of Main Characters of Novel ‘The Natural’ and the Movie ‘School Ties’. (2023, September 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from
“Compare and Contrast Essay on Heroism of Main Characters of Novel ‘The Natural’ and the Movie ‘School Ties’.” Edubirdie, 19 Sept. 2023,
Compare and Contrast Essay on Heroism of Main Characters of Novel ‘The Natural’ and the Movie ‘School Ties’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 18 Apr. 2024].
Compare and Contrast Essay on Heroism of Main Characters of Novel ‘The Natural’ and the Movie ‘School Ties’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 19 [cited 2024 Apr 18]. Available from:

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