Reminded of my hero, Sydney Carton


Sydney Carton lounging disreputably over to the right in one of the original illustrations that accompanied Charles Dicken’s “A Tale of Two Cities.”

While listening to the radio on Tuesday, I heard that Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” was first published in serial form on the same date, April 30, in 1859.

That made me think of one of my favorite literary characters: Sydney Carton, the drunkard and disreputable but brilliant English lawyer who goes to his death at the Guillotine to save the life of Charles Darnay. I’ve never have made it as a lawyer, but I’ve often familiarized with some of Carton’s attributes.

For me, despite his many flaws, Carton has always been one of literature’s best represented heroes, which brings to mind what makes a hero? That’s a question I find interesting as an ex-solider from a realm where heroic terminology is often bandied around, especially in America.

Carton’s example that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” resonates with a recent article I wrote in which I tried to address how the awarding of a medal of honor to an army chaplain who tended the wounded during battle makes one reflect on what true valor means.