The Makings of a Hero within the Media's Gaze
Briel Steinberg '06, English 156 (Victorians and Moderns), Brown University, Spring 2004
Throughout his non-fiction novel
Chuck Yeager was in Phoenix to make one of his many public appearances on behalf of the Air Force. By now the Air Force couldn't publicize Yeager, breaker of the sound barrier, enough. Like the other branches of the service, the Air Force now saw that there was nothing like heroes and record holders for getting good press and winning appropriations. The only problem was that, in terms of publicity, every other form of flier was now overshadowed by the Mercury astronauts. As a matter of fact, today, in Phoenix, what was it the local reporters wanted to ask Chuck Yeager about? Correct: the astronauts. One of them got the bright idea of asking Yeager if he had any regrets about not being selected as an astronaut.
Chuck Yeager, however, entertains no qualms about neglecting the "hero" route in favor of remaining a pilot at Edwards. He informs the information hungry reporters of the logic behind his decision.
"Besides," he added, "I've been a pilot all my life, and there won't be any flying to do in Project Mercury."
That was all it took. The reporters looked stunned. In some way they couldn't comprehend immediately, Yeager was casting doubt on two undisputable facts: one, that the seven Mercury astronauts were chosen because they were the seven finest pilots in America, and two, that they would be pilots on the most daring flights in American history. 
1. How does Tom Wolfe present the media's role in the creation and undoing of heroes? In the modern era, can a hero such as the one that Thomas Carlyle was searching for in
2. Whom does Wolfe seem to see as more of a hero within his nonfiction-novel: John Glenn or Chuck Yeager? Would Carlyle agree or disagree with this depiction? Do either of the two men truly wield the power that Carlyle is searching in what he deems a true hero?
3. In the above passage Yeager quickly crushes the "two undisputable facts" that the media has attached to the seven astronauts. What does this say about what truly constitutes the definition of a hero? Is any form of hero worship truly "undisputable" within either Wolfe or Carlyle's works?
4. How does the point of view that Wolfe maintains throughout
Last modified 26 April 2004