Joseph (Uruna)

by Savannah Marullo from Pickerington

~Opinion: In the world today, people don't realize how important it is to have a hero. In my opinion, I believe it is very earnest to have one. Heroes are inspirational in a way that not only help society, but they also motivate others to accomplish good deeds as well. Without them, the world would simply collapse with evil and despair. No good would come to this world; no one would be aroused by others for what they have done. In conclusion, the importance of heroes is strongly encouraged and because of them, they help us live in a more desirable community we wish to live.

~A Character As Hero: When I read the novel "Alligator Bayou," I found a character in the story that assumes to portray characteristics of a hero. The character's name was Uruna, otherwise known as Joseph. Joseph is an Indian from the Tunica tribe. Yet, he's the only full-blooded Tunica left in America. The man's Indian name was Uruna meaning "bullfrog." He changed his name to Joseph after he was being threatened for his name, only to protect himself.

Once he met Calogero (main character) on the bayou of Tallulah, Louisiana, the man started to become a hero to Calogero. For instance, the first time the two characters have met, Calogero was petrified of alligators due to their size and strength; how dangerous the creatures can be. Joseph knew this, and so he told Calogero a Tunica tale. "In the mountains lived alligators. But they wouldn't move for the people," he says, "so they fasted and prayed to the gods, and so the creatures had slunk aside. When the red alligator turned over, the world was hot; and when the blue one turned over, it got cold. Which was how the four seasons were created." Thus he tells Calogero that not only are alligators dangerous, they can also be helpful. With this story that Joseph had told him, the boy seemed to stress less about alligators and had overcome his fear quite a bit.

Another heroic agility that Joseph had done was convince Calogero that he was "free to become anything" he desired and to move on in his life after the boy's only family was murdered by the mob of the town by telling him, "You are free. You can choose. You can become what you choose." But while Calogero despises himself for the murder of his family, Joseph tells him that there is also good from the cause, convincing him to travel across the Mississippi River into Tangipahoa, Parish where he will live comfortably with other Sicilians. After the help of Joseph, Calogero now had the motivation to move on throughout his life and become what he truly wanted to be.

~Hall of Fame: The heroic actions that Joseph had done in the novel should be inducted to a Hero Hall of Fame. The reason for the sate being is because the way Joseph inspires other people to appreciate their freedom and accept the changes that occurred throughout life. Even he, himself lives in his own lesson by accepting that he is the only Tunica left, even changing his name living the life he seems to think is suited for himself out by the bayou. Another support for his induction is how he persuades others into overcoming what they are not comfortable with by telling them tales and fables he was once told during the Tunica tribe. Persuading others to do the right deeds are not easy, for Joseph, he understands the problems people have and with his ability, he is able to motivate as well as inspire others to accomplish what they thought they couldn't do. In conclusion, with the heroic actions Joseph had done, the man should be inducted into a Hero Hall of Fame.

~Who's Your Hero's Hero: As I interviewed Joseph with some questions I had about heroism, I asked him who he believed his hero was and I also asked personal questions he was willing to answer. Here were some of the questions and answers we shared.

Q: When you first met Calogero, what did you think of this boy. And once you knew what his problems were, did you ever think he would solve them?

A: When I first met the young boy, I noticed on his face that he seemed lost and somewhat confused. He wasn't quite sure who he really was. I knew inside that he was a strong warrior, it just needed to come out. If that boy could handle traveling from Sicily to Louisiana alone only living with his uncles and cousin, I knew he could handle many of the problems he was going to face. I believed in the boy, I knew he was going to solve his problems, he just needed a little motivation to get there.

Q: When you see Calogero, do you see yourself as the boy you were at his age?

A: Absolutely! Calogero and I have many similarities. He and I needed to find out who we really were. We also faced orphanage in a kind of way. I'm the last Tunica, and he's the last Scalise in Louisiana. And also...we weren't treated fairly with other races.

Q: You told Calogero you saw the mob murder his family, did you defend the family and speak up at all or at least try to save them?

A: It's hard to say I did not, only because I wasn't really in the madness. I was more in the background, farther away from the scene. I knew that once people saw me there, they knew I'd have something to do with the family only because I was Indian. I didn't even know it was Calogero's family until I heard Frank Raymond (one of my closest friends) mumble something about Calogero to himself. Then I received news from other townsfolk.

Q: Do you see yourself as a hero in any way?

A: I wouldn't say a hero. I'd say more as a man who understands the troubles and motivates others in time of need. I'm the man who will motivate another spirit to become a hero. I'm like a spirit who only comes when you need me most.

Q: What do you believe a true hero is?

A: I believe that a hero is one has done good deeds to help others when they need it most. Not just gods or spirits can be heroes, but also man. They save those who are in trouble.

Q: Who is your hero, Joseph?

A: My hero I'd have to say is Black Hawk from the Sauk tribe because during the time when the White Americans took over their land, he showed the enemy who was entitled to the land. The land was rightfully his! But, not only did he fight for his tribe, he also made friends with other races such as trading with the Spanish, and tempted to trade with the English. He showed that we were also fair people.

Q: Do you believe that only because a man did something that was good is a hero?

A: No! No! There has to be meaning behind the action. People have to understand why the person did it and for who and how. Actions are like a painting. You have to think very carefully to understand what it means. If you look carefully at the actions that man did, you'll understand if what he did was a heroic thing or not.

Q: Do you believe Calogero is a hero or will be?

A: Calogero to me is what I consider a hero to me. He inspired me that not all races are bad and that some are good people. His stories that he told me of his family in danger, showed that he cared and loved them. He would travel anywhere just to protect his loved ones no matter where it takes him. The boy has a strong heart! He is a hero to me.

Q: Why do you not follow Calogero in living with the community of other races in close towns?

A: To tell you the truth, I feel that my spirit should live with nature. The trees are my shelter, and the bayou is my friend. I do not need to live in civilization to make me stronger. Once I found out who I was, I knew that I was meant to live in the wilderness. I was not meant to work for a man with no sense.

Q: When Calogero left across the water, were there any last words you wanted to tell him that you never got the chance to?

A: The last words I wanted to say to the boy was, 'The boy who was holding a pitchfork now holds a mighty spear.' Calogero hadn't realized it, but he's changed, and he's found himself.

Page created on 4/15/2011 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 4/15/2011 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.


Miller, Gay. "Black Hawk." [Online] Available 2000-2001.

Napoli, Donna Jo. Alligator Bayou. NY: Wendy Lamb Books, 2009. 280p.


Author Info

Hero: An inspirational person who has done a heroic action that motivates others