While understated, Mr. Donatelli is the novel's hero. He is a hero in that he understands other peoples' need to be heroes and without a question tries to make it happen for them. Mr. Donatelli seems to know himself so well that it is clear that being special for him means helping other people find what is special about them. He understands Alfred from the first minute, realizing that Alfred is looking for something and needs something, although Mr. Donatelli is not exactly sure what that might be. Mr. Donatelli knows that while boxing is probably not the answer, it could eventually make Alfred evolve in ways that make finding the answer easier. Mr. Donatelli does the same for Spoon and has a sense about what someone needs in order to feel special. In that way, while on the surface he seems a man who owns a dilapidated gym on the third floor of a building, Mr. Donatelli is an unlikely but undeniable dream-maker.