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In the context of the time it was written, A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich by Alice Childress is brimming with realism. Childress models the realistic character here for the entire young adult genre, which some would argue is known for overly stock characters. Every character in the book is made likable (yes, even the drug dealer), and each has his or her faults. Childress exposes those who would find it unfathomable for a 13-year-old child to be addicted to heroin, and shouts it from every street corner in Harlem, as Jimmy-Lee's father was known to do. If one were forced to choose the most realistic character in the novel, Mrs. Rose Johnson, Benjie's mother, would suffice. She feels very much like the absent mother she is portrayed to be, and even though she deeply cares about her son, she does not seem to have the skill-set needed to deal with his problem, which as we see in the novel, is everyone's problem.
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