From young, people are exposed to super heroes in comics, on television and at the movies. Consequently, when one mentions the word “hero,” normally people envision an image of Batman or Iron Man. However, in Tony Richman’s real life drama I’m Being Roasted Alive, the hero of the story is 76-year-old Tom Johnston. Tom shares his near-death experience where he is trapped under a burning half tonne log. Through the thoughts, decision and actions of the protagonist, Tony Richman suggests that average individuals without superpowers can become a hero if they are able to face obstacles with hope, courage and determination.
Heroes are people who realize that hope can alter the outcome. Tom’s situation seems dismal, but he chooses to remain hopeful. On his isolated farm of 78 hectares, Tom finds himself trapped under a burning log with a broken leg. Realizing that, “Every movement brought new agony,” Tom yells out, “I’m being roasted alive.” (2) It is merely impossible for an elderly man to move an object at least three times his own weight, especially with an injury. To add to his tragedy, the log is on fire. The seriousness of his situation suggests that Tom will die as there is no one who can help him. Thus, to become a hero, one must face a hopeless obstacle like Tom does. Nevertheless, heroes remain hopeful regardless of how bleak his/her chances are of surviving. Still stuck under the log, Tom’s situation is worsening by the minute: “The flames rose higher, and he nearly fainted from the pain in his legs. His plight seemed hopeless, but he fought to stay conscious.” (2) No matter how excruciating the pain is, Tom will not give up. Even if one attempt fails, he tries to find another way out. He does not have even one thought of surrendering to death without trying. Ultimately, by having a hopeful attitude, Tom is able to keep working towards his goal which helps him to save his own life. After reminiscing about the Depression, he asks himself, “Surely, after all that you’re not going to die without a fight?” (3) By recalling his own stories of survival, “A glimmer of hope returned.” (3) Tom frees himself after an hour of agonizing pain and numerous futile tries because he would not give up believing he could rescue himself. He uses past experiences to inspire and to keep the hope alive which opens the door to his success. All in all, people like Tom, who choose to have an optimistic outlook when facing hopeless situations can conquer them. Why? Their hope enables them to believe it is possible to obtain their goals so they keep trying.
Besides maintaining a hopeful point of view, a hero like Tom has the courage to face and overcome obstacles. Being brave helps Tom to focus on a strategy to rescue himself, as well as to persist. As Tom reminisces about his childhood and the stories that his father tells him, about, “Prospectors’ endurance, of miners’ bravery and courage, of trapped men refusing to relax even the most slender grip of life,” (3) he realizes that he can relate to these people as they faced somewhat similar obstacles. These memories inspire Tom and encourage him to be bold, allowing him to face his fears and persevere in trying to fight for his survival. Furthermore, Tom does not panic even when he confronts the gross reality of his situation. When he finally frees his leg from under the burning log,
“Tom nearly fainted from shock when saw it… The charred remnants of his right foot dangled from the ankle on black threads of ligament. Above the ankle, his broken bones poked through the molten remains of his gum boot, his trouser leg and sock.” (3)
Then he decides to roll down the hill, in attempt to get himself to a hospital:
“About halfway he stopped, fighting to regain his strength, and wondered how he would ever start again, ‘Get a move on, son,’ he shouted angrily, and continued rolling like a barrel down the hill.” (3)
Being brave helps Tom to be calm and fight to stay conscious…