During the two years that the novel covers, Willie Weaver shows his heroism in several ways. Initially he takes his physical gifts for granted and focuses on winning at sports. This narrow emphasis has largely resulted from the influence of his father, a former star college athlete. Willie becomes a universally acclaimed hero in his small Montana town by winning a big baseball game.
Through a series of unfortunate incidents, the teenager ends up estranged from his parents, severely injured, and living with a criminal in California. At his new high school, he learns that a physical disability caused by an accident was temporary. He is not only able to do manual labor, but he rescues a young man from a fire—overcoming his dislike, as it seems that he was the arsonist.
Although he shows poor judgment in not communicating with his parents, Willie demonstrates these positive heroic traits.