What is a hero? A hero is a person noted or admired for nobility, courage, or outstanding achievements. In the two stories I read the two main characters, although much different from each other in rank, had many things in common.
In the story Field of Rice- Buck, the character Wang San represents the traditional, ancestral values of life especially when it comes to knowledge of the land and growing rice. He believes rice should be grown close to the soil, and that this has proven successful in China for thousands of years. He risks getting himself and his villagers shot by voicing his opinion on how to plant rice to the communist authorities, represented by Comrade Li.
Comrade Li wanted the villagers to cut deep into the soil with machines just like the Americans. However, Wang Sang disagreed he said it may be successful in America but it wouldnt work on Chinas ancient soil.
Comrade Li is guided by the principles of Chairman Mao. He believes in communism and that everyone shares equally when it comes to food, clothing, and land. He accepted the new thinking that rice should be planted more deeply into the soil. He also believes on coming down hard on any villager who disobeys. Hes completely brainwashed by the communist system to the extent that he denounces his own father who refused to become a communist, he saw this as his duty even though his father was shot.
Wang San sees this duty as a dangerous matter. He sees the dangers of having to choose family traditions and feelings over duty, but he does so anyways. He risks going to see Comrade Li on two occasions: One to try to make him change his mind and later to console him when the rice crop fails. Comrade Li realizes that hes been defeated and that he was wrong about the rice. He later turns a gun on himself as a result.
Wang San to me is considered heroic because he does instinctively leap forward preventing Li from killing himself. Also because he was outspoken about his beliefs regardless of any consequences.
In the story Blood of the Martyrs-Benet, Professor Malzius admires the scientific ability of his students, but he wishes to remain aloof when it comes to their personal lives, and their political concerns, out of the classroom. However, his students tell him things because they like his truthfulness; he hears of their political concerns even though he doesnt want to. He is lulled into a false sense of security because he assumes the new political regime would have no interest in him, for he is not a political person, only a biochemist. Therefore he assumes hell be left alone, however he is wrong.
Bonnard, Malzius friend, is different; he did leave the new regime when it came into power. Also unlike Malzius hes politically active and vocal, he signs, protest, attends rallies and writes anti-government statements from a secure, distant land. It is ironic that he, and not Malzius, is free.
Professor Malzius is imprisoned on insufficient evidence. He is maltreated and apparently held without trial for supposedly being a conspirator with his students in an underground, political movement.
He was treated fairly badly. His glasses had been cracked as a result of numerous beatings. They are completely broken by the time hes led to his execution. Hes had teeth missing and his knees has broken and poorly set. He feels he has a low blood count and hes probably correct.
The dictator sees his state as one that will lead the world because he believes his people are superior to all other nations. The idea of republics and democracies must be squashed; everyone must submit to the will of the state. These are the ideas that the dictator wants Malzius to put across to people. This is what will gain Malzius his freedom from prison.
Even though Malzius feels one political regime is just as good as another, and he could salute any dictator if need be, he does draw the line. Malzius has too much integrity as a scientist to spread lies. Scientists are engaged in the pursuit of truth, and to do anything less would be to shortchange students and others. Therefore, he chooses incorruptibility over freedom.
He throws ink at the dictator rather than sign the documents that would have set him free. He dies with the hope that truth will ultimately win out, as long as there are people willing to speak out for it.
Professor Malzius as well as Wang San are considered heroes. They may not have had incredible strength but their pursuit of truth and standing up to what they believe shows their incredible characteristics.