Is the Motorcycle Boy a hero in Rumble Fish?Is the Motorcycle Boy a hero in Rumble Fish?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rusty-James certainly thinks of his older brother, the Motorcycle Boy, as a hero, but I find him more of an anti-hero. The Motorcycle Boy has few redeeming qualities for a person with such introspective and, possibly, intelligence. He steals the bikes he rides (he refuses to actually own one of his own), and he comes and goes when he pleases. He disdains the laws of society and prefers the life of a loner. The Motorcycle Boy pops up now and then to give Rusty-James advice, but never sticks around long enough to guide his younger brother through the difficult times he makes for himself. In the end, he dies an unnecessary and pointless death, making off with the stolen fish in the hope of giving them their freedom in the river. His death leaves Rusty-James alone once again.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think he's a hero at all.  His life seems completely pointless.  He never accomplishes anything and he never really does anything positive.  I think that's why he never gets a name.  He's not a real person because he doesn't seem to care about anything.  I have a really negative image of him and do not see him as a hero at all.

adr102 | Student

i would actually say he is a hero. yes, he was a troublemaker with negative qualities, but his suicide at the end of the book actually gave rusty-james the willpower to get out of Tulsa and leave gang life. of course, rusty-james in the end never matured and is still getting into trouble, but the motorcycle boy gave his life (worthless or not) bravely in hopes that his little brother would realize the gangs would never be the same and leave town to make/find himself a better life. rusty-james did leave the gang life, which is a result of the motorcycle boy's death. wasnt that one of the conflicts of the story? the motorcycle boy solved it. the conflict was never rusty-james' fear of being alone. he was always alone, whether he knew it or not. the motorcycle boy had the courage to give his life in order to teach his brother something. he gave rusty-james the push needed to improve himself, and it worked for awhile as rusty-james left tulsa ganglife, but rusty-james refused to keep with it.