Third Class Superhero Close Reading Response

“Henry is in there maybe dying and the bleeding baby is still bleeding on the floor and I ’m looking at the television thinking about why I’m not on there? About my career? A thought bubble appears above my head and there are italicized words inside it. Don’t give up. The race isn’t over. I take out my good-guy card. I realize how small it is. I feel stupid. Embarrassed for myself. For longer than I can remember, I’ve been pretending I don’t have ambition. Hiding it from people, from myself. Pretending I’m happy where I am. I think about Henry. I think about me, about what I used to want. I don’t even want anything anymore. It’s a bad place to be. The race may not be over, but it’s over for Moisture Man. People are starting to lap me.” (YU 15)

This passage from Third class superhero best demonstrates the conflict in Nathan’s overall voice of reason. At first, Nathan is quite ambitious and positive about his future. However, in his inability to become an A-list Superhero because of his physical limitations, Nathan undergoes a transformation in his own character. Overtime Nathans pride and self confidence diminishes, contributing to a shift from a would be good guy, to a bad-guy with selfish intentions. This is exemplified when Nathan sells out his team of superheros for personal gain. “Henry is in there maybe dying and the bleeding baby is still bleeding on the floor and I ’m looking at the television thinking about why I’m not on there? About my career?” Here we can see how Nathan cant help but feel sorry for himself, even in a dire situation. Nathan’s failure to help those around him in this case indicates he lacks qualities of being a superhero. Therefore does not fit the societal standards to be a good-guy. In essence, Nathan is A half-hearted superhero.

Charles Yu’s diction is used to present the narrator with a pessimistic tone throughout the story. Characterization is a literary device that specifically fits this passage best. The sentence “A thought bubble appears above my head and there are italicized words inside it. Don’t give up. The race isn’t over. I take out my good-guy card. I realize how small it is. I feel stupid. Embarrassed for myself.” indirectly describes who Nathan actually is. In addition, Nathans character is designed to relate to everyone in society. At one point or another everyone is forced to put on the good-guy costume and that life is about finding a balance of good and evil.

-Bobby O’Connor

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One thought on “Third Class Superhero Close Reading Response

  1. I think it’s interesting to examine the sentences in this excerpt, “I take out my good-guy card. I realize how small it is.” These sentences may help to understand the parallels Yu is trying to draw to the real world through his writing. It is clear Yu is trying to say something about the nature of work, social status, and social mobility through this story. In this particular passage, Yu calls attention to the ways in which we are made to feel dissatisfied by our current lot in life, constantly focused on advancement. Part of Nathan’s desire to climb the superhero ladder is driven for a simple desire for a better life–food on the table, enough financial stability to plug in his fridge. Nathan seems more motivated, however, by others’ and his own perception of his worth as described by the work he does. Sure, he’s a good guy with a good guy card, but it just isn’t big enough to satisfy. In this way, we see that Nathan’s primary motivation for his actions is not his actual success but the perception thereof (a theme we can see when we look back to one of our earliest readings, the Simplica-Girl Diaries, as well).

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