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

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Smurch's fall out the window is symbolic of his fall from grace as national leaders and the media sought to be rid of this hero who lacked heroic qualities. In "The Greatest Man in the World," Pal Smurch flew around the world with nothing but a gallon of illegal gin...

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Smurch's fall out the window is symbolic of his fall from grace as national leaders and the media sought to be rid of this hero who lacked heroic qualities. In "The Greatest Man in the World," Pal Smurch flew around the world with nothing but a gallon of illegal gin and six pounds of salami. The media, which made a hero out of Charles Lindbergh, sought to make a hero out of Smurch. When they researched his backstory, however, they found that Smurch was uncultured and generally disliked in his hometown for committing a series of minor offenses. This delinquent came from a long line of delinquents; even his own mother did not like him. Many national leaders quietly hoped that he would die en route so that they could make up a life story for him that would be palatable for the public.

When Smurch landed, he was locked away for three weeks. To the public, this was so that he could properly rest and recover, but in reality it was so that Smurch could sober up and hopefully learn some manners. The media, however, soon realized that Smurch was not hero material. This man who had been idolized during his flight would lose fans if people could see who he really was. In order for the media to keep the narrative of "Jacky" Smurch, America's most beloved hero, Pal Smurch had to die. In a move condoned by the President of the United States, Smurch was pushed out the window, a tragic landing for a man who had been made famous by his flying exploits.

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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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