heroes and bums

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jun 22 18:48:06 UTC 2014

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "Show me a hero, and I'll write you a tragedy."

Apparently he believed either that heroes no longer existed or that
Greek-style tragedy was no longer possible, or both.

It's just an uncontextualized jotting.  Other interpretations are possible
but, IMHO, wrong.

In 1958 USMC Col. Gregory Boyington (played by Robert Conrad in TV's
shameful "Black Sheep Squadron") ended his WW2 memoir, _Baa Baa Black
Sheep_, with a possibly more famous line (13,000 raw Googlits):

"Show me a hero, and I'll show you a bum."  (A Medal of Honor recipient, he
was referring to himself.)

"So what?" you say. Because an adumbration of Boyington's idea exists in
the work of a major playwright:

1940 Robert E. Sherwood _There Shall Be No Night_ (N.Y.: Scribner's) 116:
MIRANDA. Why, you're a hero, Mr. Burnett.       JOE. No, Mrs. Valkonen. No
hero. Just a bum. I went to Spain only because I was kicked out of


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list