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“We will call him Jackson. Jackson was silent, morose man, who had few friends in the battery. He was evidently of good education, and he spoke Spanish fluently. Ordinarily, he was a first class soldier, doing his duties efficiently. He had one failing, however, that made him unpopular. Occasionally he would break out in a wild spree, always ending in the guard-house. When drunk, he was a fighting lunatic, quarreling with everyone.
“Jackson fell in love with a pretty mestiza girl who, with her mother, conducted a cantina in the plaza. In time they were married in church by the native padre. After that wedding, Jackson was shunned by his comrades. There is an unwritten law among soldiers that a white man must not wed a native.
“The artilleryman resented the scorn of his fellow-soldiers, become more sullen, and spent more time than was good for him in the company of the Filipinos. One pay-day he went on one of his mad sprees. While fighting madness was on him he attacked a young lieutenant, striking him in the face.
“To attack an officer is a grave crime in the army. Jackson was court-martialed and sentenced to six years in military prison. While he was confined in the guard-house awaiting transportation to the United States to serve his sentence, a member of the guard permitted him to escape. It is a hard duty to mount guard over a friend and treat him like a caged animal.
“A few weeks later we began to hear stories of the white renegade. He was in command of a company of insurrectos. He moved like a ghost about the country, appearing in the most unexpected places. Again and again his command attacked American outposts. On one occasion he captured two army wagons loaded with supplies, killing several members of the guard. “For months we were kept busy chasing Jackson. The natives protected him, and he was always warned of our approach. One night the main army of insurgents surrounded the town of Imus and made a general attack. The fight continued for several hours in the darkness. “As I lay in the trenches, I could distinctly hear the voice of Jackson swearing and calling to his troops to advance. The insurrectos were driven off, and by daylight they had disappeared.
“Months later, when I was with the native scouts, I witnessed the tragic end of Jackson's career. A column under General Swan attacked the Filipino trenches near Noveleta, west of Imus. The scouts were in the advance guard. “When we went over the trenches, we found Jackson lying by the roadside. He was twice wounded, - through the lungs and abdomen. Although it may read like a fiction, it is a fact that his native wife was crouched in the mud of the road, holding his head in her lap. He refused to speak to us and died defiant, fighting against the flag he had sworn to uphold.
“A few months later his wife became the mother of a blue-eyed boy. She always seemed to hate the Americans, and would never afterward speak to an American soldier.
I think it’s time to bring back the hero, to remind each of us that humanity has and continues to achieve excellence and beauty through actions, words, and deeds. What are your thoughts on the subject of the modern hero?
Discuss the belief that great literature of the twentieth century lacks protagonists who qualify as heroes. (Among the works you discuss, include at least two by the following authors: Anton Chekhov, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Amy Tan, Chinua Achebe.)