A Typical Novel Hero (Charlie Salter) Essay, Research Paper
Eric Wright is an author who has developed into one of Canada s greatest mystery writers. Wright portrays Charlie Salter, the detective in his series of novels, as a heroic character. As defined in the dictionary a hero is… A man of distinguished valor or enterprise in danger, or fortitude in suffering; a prominent or central personage in any remarkable action or event; hence, a great or illustrious person ( Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary). In
many of our novels today heroes are characterized by their romantic appeal, physical strength,and by valor in battle. Therefore, by examining Charlie Salter in these three areas; romance, physical strength, and valor in battle; it will become evident that he is a classic modern day novel hero.
Although Salter may not be described as the sexiest man alive, nor is he even in his prime, he does have some unique charms which make him seem handsome and appealing to many women. In the following paragraphs it will become obvious how Wright uses these
qualities to characterize Salter as being a romantic type of hero.
To begin, Salter s wife would frequently become paranoid that she was going to lose him to other females in the stories. Near the beginning of A Question of Murder, Charlie and his wife are laying in bed in the morning. Just as Charlie is going to head off into the bathroom to get ready for work Mrs. Salter shoots him one of her usual comments, You know, all the women in my church group think you are very handsome and that you must make an excellent husband … I hope you re not seeing that tramp of a witness again today, from what you tell me I think she really likes you. (A Question of Murder, pg. 38). After hearing these flattering things from his wife, Salter reassured his her that he would never cheat on her, and that she was the only woman in his life.
Secondly, another example of Salter fitting the stereotype of a romantic hero is found here. He was once interviewing a 25-year-old girl, approximately half his age to find out some details in a murder case. She seemed to be strangely attracted to him and wanted to make their next visit a non business meeting. Hey Charlie, do you wanna catch a movie with me tomorrow? , (A Question of Murder pg. 73) she asks him as she leaves his office. Throughout his meetings with Ashley Salter s charismatic charm had an effect on her. As a man of integrity and some modesty, he is not tempted or swayed by this attention.
Thirdly, it is made evident that Salter has a unique, romantic charm by many women throughout the novels when Charlie was making a routine visit to the wife of a murder victim. Instead of having her to the office she insisted on having their meeting over at her house. While they were sitting on her porch, about midway through their conversation, Mrs. Summer s starts to throw herself at Charlie. She says to him, Charlie, can I show you around, maybe upstairs? (A Question of Murder pg. 144) This made Charlie feel uncomfortable, but he replied very kindly, ….sorry but I must be getting to the office to document our interview. (A Question of
Murder pg. 145). From this example it is apparent that Wright once again portrays Salter as being romantic, and sexually appealing to other women. As a result, Wright has projected his main character, Charlie Salter, as a stereotypical novel hero in the area of romance.
Strength is another way in which Wright portrays Charlie Salter as a typical novel hero. Strength comes in many shapes and forms. In the earlier novels Salter was somewhat obese, and definitely out of shape. While laying in bed one morning, he said to his wife, My physique isn t what it once was. (A Question of Murder pg.24). Immediately after saying this Salter made a vow to himself to get back into the physical condition he once had during his early years on the force. Salter is showing a strong demonstration of mental strength by his motivation to lose weight and get back into shape.
In this manner, Salter was unsure as to how he was going to do all this. Losing weight and getting into shape is no easy task. It wasn t until he had a scheduled interview at a squash club, that he came to devise a method of doing all this. While waiting eagerly in the lounge for the other person to show up he got into talking the club pro. Salter had never played squash in his life, but after a conversation with the pro, he had cajoled himself a free lesson and a free month s membership. The pro said, I can give you your lesson after your interview. There are some extra clothes and equipment in my office. If you like it you are welcome to come back anytime all month. (A question of Murder pg. 86) Salter quickly found a passion for squash. Wright has him playing nearly every day from the first novel throughout the entire series. Salter was ranked as a D squash player. This means that of all the members in the club, he could get a good game by playing any other D player. In the most current novel he has improved to a B player, and can get a good run for his money against an A player. Salter is much more fit,and feels much better about himself. To be motivated and determined to do something is a sign of strength. Salter shows this through his every day routine at the squash club, and his efforts on the court.
Finally, Salter had achieved his goal through hard work and dedication of getting himself back into shape. Charlie feels happier about himself, and best of all, other people are noticing
his new look . Every where he now goes, he will receive a comment on how he has lost so much weight. At church on Sunday a lady asks Mrs. Salter how old her husband is, and than says, Wow! He looks great for 51! (Death by Degrees pg. 65) By now Mrs. Salter is used to
hearing these types of comments and does not get near as jealous as she once did. Once again, Wright portrays Charlie as a classic modern day novel hero under the category of physical strength.
Along with romance and strength, the third and final classification of some novel hero lies under their valor in battle. Salter shows his heroics through wisdom and poise, which in turn helps him get great leads in a case and eventually solve them.. In the real world , solving a murder case may be the same as slaying a monstrous dragon. Salter demonstrates his valor by defeating evil and restoring order to society
Firstly, in Wright s novel, A Question of Murder, Salter had to be very devious to get information from a suspect. Charlie played squash every day with a fellow who was a friend with the victim. Salter would often ask well-thought out questions, and then piece together the answers to find more evidence. Before asking these questions Salter already know the answers. An example of a question is… So Summer s bought the last beer you guys drank, even though
he won the game? (A Question of Murder pg. 189). Salter had already asked the waitress before therefore he already knew the answer. His intention was to catch this man in a lie, and eventually solve the case. Like all great knights who slew dragons, Salter too had a method of attack that worked best for them. Salter used his tactics to defeat evil (the suspect) and restore order back to our society by helping make it a safer place to live.
Secondly, Salter s street sense comes into play when solving a different murder case in the novel A Single Death. After a victim had died it appeared as though it was a suicide. Why would this man have purchased a $2,000 computer if he was going to commit suicide two days later. (A Single Death pg. 179). Said Salter cleverly as he convinced himself that it was a murder, not a suicide. This demonstrates another example of how Salter uses his intelligence to solve a big case, and slay another dragon by restoring public safety.
Once again, another example of how Salter uses his intellect to crack a case and protect public good as a heroic character is as follows. In the novel, The Night the Gods Smiled, Salter figures out the prime suspect lied about his alibi. How could you have been at home in Toronto that night when the stub of your weekly lottery ticket says Guelph? (The Night the Gods Smiled, pg. 174). Salter asks this while searching through the suspect s wallet. Salter had
outsmarted his opponent and returned home from another well fought battle against someone who would pose a threat to society.
In conclusion, Charlie Salter s romantic appeal, physical strength, and valor in battle have projected him as being nothing short of admirable. It has been made quite apparent that Charlie Salter possesses the three key strengths which characterize him as being a classic modern day novel hero.