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“The Innocent Hero”

Unit 1 Questions
11/1/06
1. Merriam Webster Online defines innocent as “free from guilt or sin

especially through lack of knowledge of evil.” This definition is pertinent to the

hero’s journey because it is the beginning step for each hero. The innocent stage

in a hero’s life is caused by a limited sense of awareness and is therefore the first

stage in the hero character arc. Without being exposed to the problem, the hero is

not called to adventure and thus will not complete or even start his heroic journey.

An archetype is a pattern, character, symbol, or idea that recurs throughout

history so much that it is considered by most as general and universal. An

archetype from The Truman Show would be reality vs. perception. This question

has been pondered upon throughout all human history. In the film, Truman begins

as the innocent hero in that he is unaware that his perception is not reality. Series

of events such as the light falling from the sky and the radio station tuning into his

every movement, force Truman into a state of increased awareness and thus

thrusting him into his heroic journey.

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2. The Truman Show is full of concrete objects that represent other abstract

ideas also known as symbols. Three specific symbols I particularly like are the

relationship between land and water, the names of important characters in the

movie, and the motif of bars.

The symbol of land and water possesses many obvious qualities that are

taken quite literally. Objectively, land and water are strictly geographical terms

but are analogous to the “conscious iceberg” in terms of symbolism. Literally,

land and water are very specific and limited on the surface, but underwater—

symbolically, they mean so much more. Land in this case would represent

Truman’s consciousness and what is known to him. The water, on the other hand,

stands for all that is unconscious and unknown. Truman literally and symbolically

crosses this boundary when he goes out onto the “sea” and is hit in the face with

the truth of what he has been living unconsciously in.

Names of the main characters in The Truman Show are particularly and

interestingly symbolic. The two specific characters are Truman and Christof. To

the most casual observer, these names are merely the names of characters in the

movie, but once again, symbolism brings so much more meaning to them. The

name “Truman Burbank” can be broken down into pieces according to his first

and last name. His first name, Truman, can be split into the smaller words, “true”

and “man” and his last name, Burbank, stands for the studio city in Southern

California based on its theatrical sets that fake actuality. When you put their

symbolic meanings together you see that Truman Burbank is a “true” “man” in a

“fake” place. This symbolic meaning is a great overview of the movie as the

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innocent hero tries to find truth and reality which is concealed behind the fake

perception of the world he lives in. The other name I found symbolic is Christof.

If one take the same approach and breaks down his name into components, it is

obvious that it is formed by combining the Son of God’s name, “Christ,” and the

preposition, “of.” The word Christ implies that a godly creator character, which

Christof fulfills, but leaves the word “of” which poses an important question:

What is Christof the Christ of?

The last and most recurring symbol in The Truman Show is the object of

bars. When take alone, bars are simply strips of metal used for architectural

purposes. Symbolically, however, they represent how Truman is trapped in his

limited conscious world and is being held back from discovering the truth and

reality of life.

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3.