Toughness characteristics of a heterogeneous silicon carbide with a coarsened and elongated grain structure and an intergranular second phase are evaluated relative to a homogeneous, fine-grain control using indentation–strength data. The heterogeneous material exhibits a distinctive flaw tolerance, indicative of a pronounced toughness curve. Quantitative evaluation of the data reveals an enhanced toughness in the long-crack region, with the implication of degraded toughness in the short-crack region. The enhanced long-crack toughness is identified with crack-interface bridging. The degraded short-crack toughness is attributed to weakened grain or interface boundaries and to internal residual stresses from thermal expansion mismatch. A profound manifestation of the toughness-curve behavior is a transition in the nature of mechanical damage in Hertzian contacts, from classical single-crack cone fracture in the homogeneous control to distributed subsurface damage in the heterogeneous material.