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In The Greatest Man in the World, what is the fall out of the window symbolic of?

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annette4797 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 10, 2011 at 11:20 AM via web

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In The Greatest Man in the World, what is the fall out of the window symbolic of?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted June 23, 2011 at 4:32 AM (Answer #1)

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In the short story "The Greatest Man in the World," Smurch is pushed out of the window. He has become a nuisance to the great leaders of America. Although he has flown around the world, he is not hero material. He has an awful, annoying personilty, and all he is after is money, not just notoriety.

Ironically, Smurch survived his plane trip around the world. Even then, the authorities were hoping he would drown. Even his mother hpoed he would drown:

His mother, a sullen shortorder cook in a shack restaurant on the edge of a tourists' camping ground near Westfield, met all inquiries as to her son with an angry, "Ah, the hell with him; I hope he drowns."

Smurch was a terrible person with terrible manners and a crude disposition. After the great leaders, including the President of the United States, tried to teach Smurch the correct manners for an interview, Smurch just mocked them and insisted on getting money for his great feat.

Falling from the window was made to look like an accident. The fall from the window is symbolic in that Smurch was detested by those who truly knew him a person. He was not heroic in their eyes. The symbolism is that you have to know how to act to be considered great and heroic. One feat of great accomplishment does not a hero make. Smurch made enemies more quickly than he made friends. He was obnoxious and not worthy to be called a hero.

The symbolism is in the fact that someone may push you out the window if you are pain. Ironically, Smurch made great altitude when flying around the world, only to come home and be pushed from a window. The irony is not funny, but when Smurch's mother heard her son was dead, she tried to hide a strange, sly or mischievous look on her face:

Mrs. Emma Smurch bowed her head above two hamburger steaks sizzling on her grill -- bowed her head and turned away, so that the Secret Service man could not see the twisted, strangely familiar, leer on her lips.

 

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