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Farrell, James T. "The Fate of a Hero".


Set in the working class Chicago. The protagonist is Peters, a country bred man, strong and hard working, but not very bright. He is accepted as a petrol station attendant. His first task is to to clean the station and its surroundings. An inspector appears and observes that the station is well kept, the best in the country.

Peters is employed at another petrol station. He is on his way to become the best seller. A gang of young boys with weapons raid the station, though instructed to give up immediately, Peters thrashes the boys. His photo appears in the newspaper and he gets extra money by his employer. The friends of the gangsters who were sentenced to a jail attack him and beat him up.

There is another raid on his filling station and the same script is repeated: the criminals are thrashed, Peters's photo appears in the newspaper, he gets extra money and a warning to give up next time. There is another revenge taken on Peters who is beaten up again and again.

He is then appointed an inspector but proves to be too hard working, which demoralizes the workers he is to attend. Then he is made a clerk for the filling stations, but he keeps the records too much in his own way. Then he is back to the filling station as an attendant and is beaten up again.

Though the best worker his employer ever had, he must be given a sack for the sake of his life and the company's property. He ends up employed in a detective agency for a higher salary than he had at the filling station.



- focuses on the grotesque problems of a straight man in a corrupt society

- the brutality of the city as it must strike a peaceful country bred man

- recurrent motifs: Peters's fights with the burglars and being beaten for revenge


  • Author

    Farrell, James Thomas. (1904 - 1979).
  • Full Title

    "The Fate of a Hero".
  • First Published

    In: Fifteen Selected Stories. NY: Avon Book Company, 1943.
  • Form

    Short story.

Works Cited

Farrell, James T. "The Fate of a Hero". (1943). In: An Omnibus of Short Stories. NY: The Vanguard Press, 1956.


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