Heroes Theme- Heroism
- War heroes are portrayed as role models worthy of admiration. The people of Frenchtown are excited by examples of heroism because they do not have to face the consequences of war directly. Heroes represent bravery and patriotism.
- The people are intensely proud of their own war hero, Larry LaSalle. Cheers and applause fill the cinema when Larry features on the Movietone News after his award of a silver star.
- On his return home LaSalle recieves a traditional hero's welcome with speeches from the mayor and the whole town turns out to greet him. He is described as a stereotypical hero-like the ones in movies. The young Francis admires Larry for his traditional war exploits, just as he admired all the young men when they returned home in their uniform.
- Francis and Larry are the most obvious representations of heroism but other characters are heroes in their own ways. Robert Cormier uses Arthur Rivier as the representative of ordinary heores in Chapter 8. Perhaps it is the ordinary heroes that Cormier wants the reader to remember most. The young germans Francis shot were also heroes to someone to.
Heroes Theme- Heroism 2
Respect for Heroes
The novel presents heroes as victims. Their heroism does not bring them happiness
- Mrs Belander's face 'softened' and she calls him 'poor boy' when she meets Francis because of his injuries
- In the St Jude Club, heroes are treated with the utmost respect. When talking about Larry LaSalle, the bartender's voice become 'formal and dignified'. He has a scrapbook containing their exploits but he can also see the reality of heroism in front of him.
- Arthur Rivier is suprised that Francis, a war hero, should wish to remain anonymous, but it is this same respect for Francis which makes him agree to remain silent.
- It is noticeable that Larry welcomes the adulation of others and is happy to be a very public hero.
Heroes Theme- Heroism 3
Heroes or Anti-Heroes?
- Initially Larry is presented as an inspirational figure because of the work he does in the Wreck Centre. He is admired for the way he develops the talents of all who go there.
- It is ironic that on the night where he is acclaimed by the whole town for his heroism he destroys the lives of both Francis and Nicole, two young people who regarded him as a hero. But Larry himself asks, does this flaw in his character destroy all the good he has done?
KEY QUOTE: 'He had been a hero to us long before he went to war'
- Francis himself does not see himself as a hero because of his hidden motive for joining up. In fact he hates to be acclaimed a hero whether by his friend Enrico, Sister Mathilde and Nicole or even Larry LaSalle. In his conversation with Larry he admits that he was 'a fake all along'. However, we can see that he has the courage to challenge Larry and has every intention of killing him in order to expiate his guilt.
Heroes Theme- Confronting Evil
One of the things that motivates the characters to go to war is to confront evil. There is the external evil that the inhabitants of Frenchtown can all see (wartime enemy) but there is also the evil within their town which they cannot see until it is too late. Not only that, but the enemy soldiers are shown to be young boys just like any other who cry out for their mother when they are killed.Consequently, evil in the novel is not always obvious:
- Initially Larry LaSalle is worthy of admiration. For this reason the revelation of his evil side in the attack on Nicole shocks Francis because it is so unexpected.
- Francis is further shocked when Larry reveals that he has always been attracted to 'sweet young things' an attraction which Larry himself considers evil. 'We love the thing that makes us evil'
Thought the novel Francis struggles against evil. He believes that his cowardice as resulted in the suffering of the person he loves most and that an act of evil took place because he stood by and did nothing to stop it. For him, the greatest evil occurred where he least expected to find it.
- It is ironic that Francis does not carry out his mission to kill Larry as Larry commits suicide.
- However, in his confrontation with Larry, Francis challenges him for the evil he has done.Once Francis has exposed the evil side of this nature, Larry may feel he has no option but to commit suicide.
Heroes Theme- Guilt
Francis is consumed with guilt throughout the novel:
- He feels guilt at the thought that he intends to commit murder. His failure to save Nicole from Larry is an even greater source of guilt.
- Francis's sense of guilt is compounded by the guilt he feels at being acclaimed as a hero when he knows he only committed his act of bravery in the hope that he would be killed.
Unlike Francis, Larry does not seem to be troubled by a guily conscience:
- In Chapter 14 he explains that in his view everyone sins and one sin should not be allowed to wipe away all the good things a person has done.
- He regards his desire for young girls as merely a flaw in his nature. He regrets only that Francis and Nicole no longer seen him as the hero they once did.
- Cormier's portrayal of Larry is complex one and we could argue that his depression at the end of the novel comes from self-pity than guilt.
Heroes Theme- Forgiveness
The theme of forgiveness is introduced in Chapter 1 where readers see Francis praying for a man who has done him harm. The religious element of forgiveness is emphasised here and again in Chapter 12 where Francis hides in the confessional at St Jude's Church. It is as though he want immediate forgiveness for his percieved sin of abandoning Nicole when she needed him most.
It appears to be easy for Larry to forgive himself as he does not seem to experience the sense of guilt that Francis does. For Francis self-forgiveness is harder to achieve
Nicole is the character in the novel who personifies goodness:
- Her first words to Francis are ones of forgiveness, apologising to him for the words she said to him after the attack.
- It is not clear whether her word relieve Francis from his burden to guilt.
- Although she forgives him, it is clear Nicole cannot forget and that she and Francis cannot be friends.
Heroes Theme- Loneliness
Many of the characters in the novel appear to live alone, separated from their past. They often struggle to communicate their real feelings and withdraw into themselves.
- At the end of the novel Nicole is alone in the convent far away from the friends she made in Frenchtown. She tried to cut herself off from her past.
- Although for the greater part of the novel Larry is surrounded by crowds of people, at the end he is seen as a sad and lonely figure in his lodgings.
- Francis chooses loneliness, refusing to reveal himself to people he knows.
- Arthur Rivier wanders the streets at night, drunk and alone.
- The loneliness of characters is often linked to the secrets they carry within them. It is their secret or hidden identity which sets them apart from others.
When he walks the streets of Frenchtown, Francis remains hidden behind his scarf, a visible sign of his separation from his past. He embraces loneliness because he is ashamed of his identity. Even when he is in a crowded place he is still alone, not taking part in the action but merely observing. This also reflects his childhood experiences as a lonely child brought up by his uncle.
Heroes Theme- Appearance and Reality
When Sister Mathilde says to Francis 'We all have secrets', she is in fact talking about everyone in the novel. There is a difference between how characters present themselves and the reality which lie beneath.
- In the veterans' club Arthur Rivier hides his depression after the war.
- Enrico Rucelli hides his despair behind a mask of humorous remarks.
- Francis goes to great lengths to hide his identity on his return.
- The theme of hidden identity it exemplified in the character of Larry LaSalle, about whom there have been rumours since his first appearance in Frenchtown.
- Nicole hides the attack from her family in order to spare them pain.
The difference between the appearance and reality of war is the central part of Cormier's novel. The people in Frenchtown see a sanitised version of glory and heroism in the cinema. They are proud of the contribution they can make to a war which is taking place such a long way away. However, the survivors bring back with them the reality of their wartime experiences. Francis' disguise:
- The white silk scarf and the red sox cap that Francis wears serve not only to protect people from being distressed by his terrible injuries, but prevent him from being recognised
- His disguise is also a symbol of shame, the shame that he carries everywhere with him and which haunts his waking hours-the shame of being recognised as a war hero.
Heroes Theme- War
War ties into the theme of heroism as a useful motif – it is a time when people are often called ‘heroes’ but it is also a theme in itself.
- Francis dreams of the German soldiers that he killed, but in his dreams they cry ‘Mama’ and he sees them as boys, like him ‘too young to shave’. In real life they didn’t have time to speak, but the dream emphasises a common idea in war literature – that the soldiers on both sides often have more in common with each-other than with their commanders.
- Throughout Francis never questions whether the war itself was just – he describes it at the end as the ‘good war’. However, the depiction of violence, and its effects, is quite brutal. The clinical and grotesque description of Francis’s facial injuries at the beginning of the novel is a good example of this. War is presented as horrifying and terrifying, with a massive effect on those who fight in it, but Cormier is not concerned with the politics of the war, nor does he make Heroes a pacifist novel.
- Arthur’s collapse behind the club one evening suggests that many of the veterans have similar issues to Francis – although Arthur appeared normal he is finding it very difficult to cope with the memories of what the war was like. Because he is physically unharmed, it is easier for him to pass as ‘normal’ than it is for Francis, but this episode shows that doesn't mean the soldiers who came back in one piece are actually okay.
Heroes Theme- Innocence/end of childhood
- There are many points in the book which represent an ending of naïveté. One is a major event in American history – the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Francis notes that ‘We had discovered in one moment on a Sunday afternoon that the world was not a safe place anymore.’ This was not just their discovery, but the discovery of the whole United States, that they could not remain in isolation from the rest of the world.
- When Francis confidently leaves Nicole alone with LaSalle in the Wreck Centre, he does so in complete innocence of the danger she is in. Taking people at face value is something which the novel constantly warns us against – the apparently happy Arthur is found crying behind the St Jude club, and the villainous LaSalle ends by doing something positive for Francis, in affirming his heroism, and refusing to let him become a murderer.
- LaSalle’s **** of Nicole in the Wreck Centre is the end of innocence for both her and Francis, who waits in the dark knowing but unable to acknowledge what is happening to her. It is also symbolic of the end of their innocent belief in goodness – something that the war ended for many people.
Heroes Theme- Innocence/end of childhood 2
- Francis going off to war with a faked age on his birth certificate is a significant step out of childhood – like many soldiers who signed up underage, he is forcing the issue. He notices that other soldiers – even the Germans – are also very young.
- Francis going off to war with a faked age on his birth certificate is a significant step out of childhood – like many soldiers who signed up underage, he is forcing the issue. He notices that other soldiers – even the Germans – are also very young.
- The fact that Nicole will not see him again after the meeting they have at the end of the book also closes a door on the idea of there being a ‘happily ever after’: although she is surviving, and continuing to recover, she cannot go back to that state of innocence.
Heroes Theme- Love
There are different types of love in Heroes.
- Francis’s love for Nicole is highly romanticised – his first meeting with her is compared to a knight kneeling at the feet of a saint. He can barely get up the courage to speak to her, although they do eventually go out, and their relationship is sweet and innocent.
- Later, in the army, he is motivated by both his love for her which has never gone away, and his guilt about his failure to help her when she was attacked. During the war his love and desire for forgiveness turns into the only thing that makes his life worthwhile. From the first chapter where he says ‘it would always be Nicole Renard’ to the penultimate one where he tells us the reason he went to see Nicole was to see if she could still be his girl ‘which could maybe change my mind about the gun in my duffel bag.’ This is verging on the obsessional, and Francis realises as he talks to Nicole that the love they had ended a long time ago.
Heroes Theme- Love 2
- There is the hero-worship the teens feel for LaSalle before the war, and then that the town feels for the returning heroes. The scrapbook, the reception for LaSalle and the toasting of the Silver Star heroes in the St Jude Club all evidence this kind of love, and the need to find something or someone to admire to make life seem better.
- Much of what LaSalle did for the kids of Frenchtown, and Francis in particular could be described as loving: he makes Francis a more confident teenager, and continues trying to make him feel better about himself even after Francis has threatened to kill him. LaSalle also describes his sexual desire for young girls (‘sweet young things’) as love. He says ‘we love our sins. We love the thing that makes us evil.’ This is a darker side to what ‘love’ can mean to different people.
- There is an element of brotherly or fraternal love in Francis’s memories of his fellow soldiers, in his remembrance of them every night. His sacrifice, of throwing himself on the grenade, could also be seen as a loving one – certainly LaSalle thinks that Francis’s instinct was to save his fellow soldiers, not to kill himself. There is a sense in which all the veterans are bound together by their experiences, which forms a kind of brotherly bond between them.
Character Profile- Francis Cassavant
Francis is the narrator of the novel. He has returned to Frenchtown with horrific war injuries and his mission is to seek revenge on the man who ruined his life.
What does Francis do in the novel?
- He returns to Frenchtown but does not reveal his identity because he is ashamed of his past
- His return to Frenchtown allows him to explore his own past and the issues which have shaped him.
- He is lonely and damaged, both physically and emotionally
- Through his experiences and attitudes we explore the concept of herosim
- The characters of Francis allows Cormiers to explore the emotional vulnerability of young adults.
- His life is changed forever by two people who arrive in Frenchtown- Nicole and Larry
- His love for Nicole is the means by which Larry's true nature is exposed
- When Francis leaves Frenchtown, we are aware of his tragic status
- Throughout the novel Francis reiterates his love for Nicole. Right from the outset we know that it will ‘always be Nicole.’ His love appears hopeless, and at first we think it is because he can never get up the courage to speak to her.
- Francis has a strong sense of guilt. He has had a Catholic education and in chapter one he prays in church. He says he is filled with a sense of shame and guilt because he is praying for the man he wants to kill (LaSalle). Similarly he decides to join the army because suicide would not only be a sin, but shameful when there were soldiers sacrificing their lives for others in the war.
Character Profile- Francis Cassavant 2
How is Francis Described?
- 'I keep a bandage on the space where my nose used to be', Francis talks about his injuries in a dispassionate way. They represent a central part of the book. We are aware of the horror of his injuries and the way they affect others. He accepts them as his punishment for betraying Nicole.
- 'It would always be Nicole Renard', Nicole changes his life completely. She is his first, and perhaps only, love and represents his greatest friendship. He returns to friendship to deal with his guilt for not protecting her
- 'I'll buy you one like that some day', On the night when Larry returns home as a hero, Francis talks about his future in a positive way for the only time in the novel. His dreams and his future are snatched away.
- 'I start to close doors. Not real doors but doors to the future', The sense of despair that runs through Francis inspires the reader's sympathy and understanding. He did not carry out his first suicide attempt and failed in his second. He suggests that he is heading for a third. He does not believe he has a futures since the brief moment of happiness he experienced will never be restore.
- 'I am tired of this talk, impatient to do what I came here to do', When he finally confronts Larry, his single-minded mission appears to have reached its conclusion. This moment has been his only motivation. He seems confident and decisive, although he will once again defer to Larry.
- 'I wonder what he's thinking of or remembering', As a child he lost himself in books. In the last chapter he watches a stranger and imagines his story. He knows that his own story has ended.
Character Profile- Francis Cassavant 3
Although he was awarded a Silver Star in the war, for falling on a grenade and saving his platoon’s lives, Francis feels that he is not a hero, and as if he is a fraud. He joined the army because he wanted to die, and believes he fell on the grenade in order to do so. He does not believe he is a hero because his motives were not heroic. Again we see he has a sense of shame and guilt.
He spends the whole book waiting for LaSalle’s return to Frenchtown so that he can seek revenge. Yet when the moment comes his hand is shaking and he is overwhelmed. In the end LaSalle takes his own life – but it seems unlikely that Francis could actually have gone through with it, despite his plans and protestations.
He does do his best to ensure that he has no future, by burning the contact details of his friend from the hospital in England, and of the doctor who says he will repair his face. He calls this ‘closing doors to the future’. He seems to be doing this to leave himself no option but to go through with this plan. Hope returns to the novel in the final chapter when he thinks about tracking them down again.
Francis enlists in the army at fifteen, he has done this because he wishes to end his life because of the guilt he feels of Nicole
Character Profile- Francis Cassavant
“I thought of Nicole Renard, realizing I had not thought of her for, oh, maybe two hours.” This quotation is the first implication the reader gets that Francis is in love with Nicole Renard. He says he hadn't thought of her for two hours, this implies that he often thinks of her, it also emphasises how guilty he feels for what happened to Nicole.
“At that moment, I knew that I was really anonymous, that I wasn’t Francis Joseph Cassavant anymore but a tenant in Frenchtown.” This shows how different Francis looks, even his old landlady does not recognize him. It also shows his need for anonymity, he doesn't want to be known because he plans to kill Larry LaSalle.
“The most beautiful girl I had ever seen… The pale purity of her face reminded me of the statue of St Therese… I silently pledged her my love and loyalty forever.”, This shows how romantic Francis is, he believes in love in first sight because he fell in love with Nicole the first time he saw her. Nicole reminds him of a saint and he promises to stay with her forever. This emphasises his love for Nicole because he's making a huge commitment by saying he promises his love and loyalty forever.
Character Profile- Nicole Renard
Nicole Renard is an innocent young girl who is not only Francis's first and only love but also the victim of Larry LaSalle.
What does she do?
- Cormier presents her as a symbol of innocence and purity who is eventually soiled by the actions of Larry. 'The pale purity of her face reminded me of the statue of St Therese...'
- Nicole seems to enjoy the close attentions of Larry without understanding their implications.
- She awakens love and devotion in Francis who gains confidence through their relationship
- She blames Francis for not protecting her from Larry's assault, which becomes the key moment in his life.
- She speaks honestly to Francis at the end of the book, indicating that their relationship is at an end and that it is time for him to move on. 'Have a good life, Francis. Be whatever will make you happy.'
Character Profile- Nicole Renard 2
How is she described?
- 'That would be nice', When she agrees to go to the cinema with Francis she transforms him. She offers him the attention and affection that he has lacked in his life so far. She enjoys his company and teases him playfully because he is so shy.
- 'Stay close to me', These words on the night of the civic reception indicate that she is apprehensive about Larry.
- 'Why didn't you do something?' In the aftermath of the assault Nicole becomes angry and resentful. She feels betrayed by Francis and has contempt for his weakness.
- 'Why did you come here today?', These words perhaps indicate that their relationship meant much more to Francis than it ever did to her.
Nicole is flattered by the attentions of Larry, who has special status among her friends. She enjoys her friendship with Francis and speaks positively to him, about possibilities and achievement. Her relationship with him is innocent and lacks the sexual undercurrent which is there in the way Larry treats her. The result of Larry's attentions is that her life will never be the same again.
Character Profile- Nicole Renard 3
“I recognised in her eyes what I could not deny: betrayal. My betrayal of her in her eyes.”, Nicole initially blames Francis for her ****. This plays a huge part in Francis' life, it makes him want to end his life, it also makes Francis want to kill Larry LaSalle. When Nicole says she forgives Francis its like he is finally free.
'For one lightening moment, I don't recognize her.... He cheek-bones are more prominent and her eyes seem to be bigger. I look at her as if studying a painting in a museum, searching for that glimpse of mischief in her eyes...' Francis is seeing Nicole for the first time since the night of her ****. She looks different, she is recovering from her ordeal, Francis no longer recognizes the girl he saw before who did have the mischief in her eyes, she has grown up.
Character Profile- Larry LaSalle
Larry is a mysterious youth worker who has the ability to find and develop the talents of young people; however, beneath the surface there lies a dark and unpleasant secret.
What does he do in the novel?
- He arrives in Frenchtown and creates an instant impression
- With carefully targeted encouragement he helps young people find unexpected talents
- He is predatory and calculating in his approach to Nicole
- He always knows what to say for maximum effect
- Larry is celebrated as a hero but he has a fatal flaw
- Like Francis, Larry too hides his real identity
- Even when facing Francis's gun, Larry shows that he still has influence over him
- Larry stops Francis from killing him but commits suicide instead.
Character Profile- Larry LaSalle 2
How is he described?
'A tall slims man stepped into view, a lock of blond hair tumbling over his forehead, a smile that revealed dazzling movie-star teeth', Larry is established as an attractive and glamorous figure. It is a if he has stepped down from the cinema screen as he will appear to do again later. This makes him a natural centre of attention.
'Good Morning' he said. 'My name's Larry LaSalle', Right from the start Larry s out to create an impression. He enjoys being the centre of attention and the status his role gives him.
'He was our champion and we were happy to be in his presence'. He wins the respect and the devotion of all the young people because he is good at the things they admire. As their hero they believe that he can do no wrong.
'He applauded her, his eyes looking deeply into hers, as she lay at his feet', Larry's behaviour towards Nicole is an important indication of the way he regards young women. He sees himself as dominant and believes that they should be submissive.
'What's the matter?' Larry LaSalle asked. Larry has positive qualities. He is generous and sensitive in his dealing with Francis, offering time to a shy and isolated boy and allowing him to become a champion, boosting his self esteem.
Character Profile- Larry LaSalle 3
'We have to keep the world safe for these young people- they are our future' This is an indication of the way Larry always tries to say the right thing. Ironically, Nicole must confront a hero who is in fact representing danger and will destroy her future
'Sweet young things', The words that he uses here reveal his character. The girls he has abused are not people, but 'thing's
'Does that one sin of mine wipe away all the good things?' This comment might indicate that Larry does not accept the full extent of what he has done. He doesn't regard it as serious since he thinks that it can be excused.
“He is pale, eyes sunk into the sockets like in the newsreel at the Plymouth, and he seems fragile now, as if caught in an old photograph that has faded and yellowed with age.” Larry has changed physically, he is not the glamorous, attractive man he used to be. He is no longer happy because he can't get the sweet young things.
'We love the thing that makes us evil. I love the sweet young things', Larry loves his secret pleasure, he doesn't seem to regret his actions.
'I have my own gun. I take it out and look at it all the time. I wonder how it would feel to pull the trigger and have everything come to an end'. Larry also thinks about killing himself, even though I think its more to do with the fact he doesn't have the looks and personality he used to.
Character Profile- Larry LaSalle 4
Writing about Larry
Remember that there is an essential dilemma at the heart of Larry's character. Can we ever take at face value anything that he says? He appears to lack sincerity and honesty. He undoubtedly did many good things in his work as we see in Chapter 5. However, they can never excuse his behaviour as a serial abuser of young women. Through his actions he betrays their trust#
He has manipulative elements in his character, in his 'grooming' of Nicole. Indicate that he expressed his desire for her in the stylised conventions of dance and then introduces an overtly sexual element.
Robert Cormier encourages us to look beyond a person's physical appearance. The appearance of some of the characters has been
Character Profile- Arthur Rivier
Arthur, another ex-serviceman and local boy, was once a star baseball player for the Frenchtown Tigers and Francis remembers regarding him with admiration for his sporting prowess. When he first appeared in his uniform, Francis wanted to emulate (match) him. Arthur recognizes but agrees to keep the secret.
- Arthur's character is used in the novel as a representative of all the soldiers who have suffered. Arthur deals with the trauma of war by meeting up with other veterans. Francis prefers to be alone.
- He appears to be positive about the future but like Francis he hides the truth behind a mask
- There is a moving portrait of a drunk Arthur who reveals his true sentiments about the war.
- Arthur draws attention to the cruelty of way which turns young boys into killers.
Character Profile- Mrs Belander
Mrs Belander is Francis's landlady in Frenchtown.
- She represents the attitude of the townspeople towards war veterans.
- She is kind and caring
- Her home is a refuge for Francis, the only place he appears at ease.
- She is also part of Francis's past. He used to do her errands and she baked him a birthday cake when he was thirteen
- The character of Mrs Belander is used as a structural device as she is the person who unwittingly lets Francis know that Larry LaSalle has returned to Frenchtown.
Character Profile- Joey LeBlanc
Joey is a friend of Francis and they sometimes went to the cinema together. He would get in trouble in school by talking out of turn. The things that Joey says are an important commentary on the action.
- Joey is a confident boy who is the complete opposite to Francis.
- He lives in Francis's memory as a lively pre-war boy. Because he dies in the war we cannot see the effect it had on him.
- His comments about the Wreck Centre and Larry creates a sense of apprehension
- He suggests that Larry might not be what he seems.
- His death at Iwo Jima shows us the indiscriminate nature of war, e.g. that war takes likes regardless of character
- Joey- 'Better watch out, Mister LaSalle. Francis has got your number'
Character Profile- Enrico Rucelli
Enrico was a close wartime comrade of Francis. He shows great courage and is used by Cormier to illustrate some of the horrors of war. He suffered severe injuries, losing both legs and his left arm. Although they are very different personalities, Francis and Enrico are united by their terrible injuries and their suffering. He displays a certainty about his future plans which Francis does not.
- Although he does not appear in the main action of the novel, his comments, as reported by Francis, are very significant.
- He is the first to inform the reader that Francis was awarded the Silver Star, of which Francis is ashamed
- Despite the fact that he has severe injuries, he still teases Francis.
- Although, he is outwardly cheerful, his sense of despair adds to the atmosphere of the novel.
- He regards himself not as a person but as something which should be disposed of.
One feature of Cormier's style is that he can create realistic descriptions of people and places by the use of a few well-chosen details.
- The bleakness of Francis's life is matched by the description of his damp cold lodgings in Chapter 3
- When the Wreck Centre was completed it still looked unfinished: 'The white paint didn't completely cover the dark patches of mildew on the clapboards and the shutters sagged next to the window'. This suggestion of imperfection and decay fits well with the events which are to take place there
- Laters, the joyfulness of celebrations for Larry's return is captured in the account of the women's dresses: 'gilttery sequins catching the light from a crystal ball'
- In the veterans' club the change of mood from jovial to melancholic is conveyed by a description of the veterans such a George Richelieu 'tugging at his pinned up sleeve which should hold his arm' or Armand who 'stares off into space, looking at something nobody else can see'
Guilt and forgiveness are themes which are embedded in the novel, and supported by the frequent use of religious vocabulary.
- When Francis first prays in St Jude's Church he refers to the 'odours of forgiveness'
- Nicole reminds Francis of the statue of St Therese, 'in the niche next to Father Balthazar's confessional'
- The smell of ashes after Francis has burned the address and telephone number of Dr Abrams is compared to incense.
- When Francis speaks to Nicole after the attack he stands before her 'as if all my sins had been revealed'
- Larry LaSalle refers to his sins. 'Everybody sins, Francis. The terrible thing is we love our sins'
The Language Style of Robert Cormier
- Short sentences and simple vocabulary are characteristic features of the style of Heroes. These are linked to the narrative voice of Francis Cassavant and allow us to feel as though he is speaking to us directly, allowing us to listen to his thoughts. As a result, his detailed and at times brutal descriptions of the injuries receive great impact.
- In spite of his severe injuries, Francis is not portrayed as self-pitying. For example, after he has stated that people often cross the street when they see him coming, he simply comments 'I don't blame them'
- Sometimes the thoughts of Francis are recorded in italics as if they are part of the dialogue. When Nicole tells him she is fine Francis thinks to himself: 'You don't sound fine
- 'The simplicity of the opening paragraph of the novel ending with the direct statement 'I have no face' both shocks readers and compels them to read on
- Sometimes the short sharp sentences are emphasised by their arrangement on separate line. After Francis has finally discovered the whereabouts of Larry LaSalle in Chapter 13, three short sentences complete the chapter finishing with 'And I know where to find him'
- The voices of the other characters in the novel are reflected in the dialogue. The short conversation between Arthur Rivier and Francis reveals the respect Arthur has for a veteran with terrible injuries such as Francis; 'Land mine?...Grenade then?...Tough, tough..' The briefness of their words suggests their shared experience.
- Nicole's affection for Francis and her own sweet nature can be detected in her final conversation with him: 'My good Francis. My table tennis champion. My Silver Star Hero' the work 'my' emphasising her affection for him
Structure- Use of Flashbacks
- Heroes does not follow a straightforward chronological narrative. The narrative follows moves from present to past, with the result that the readers are able to build up a fuller picture of the lives of then main protagonists, Francis, Nicole and Larry.
- The flashbacks are necessary because they show how each of the characters has changed and developed throughout their lives.
- The frequently changing flashbacks could also be seen to represent the different sides of Francis's character. His personality has many different aspects to it; he is at times light-hearted and at other deeply depressed. On occasions he is troubled by guilt, unable to take positive action. The divisions in his character and his varying moods throughout the novel are reflected in the structure of the novel.
- The flashbacks take place in the first twelve chapters. This establishes the behaviour and the motivation of the characters.
- All the events of the past build up to Francis's confrontation with Larry. At the same time, suspense is created in the novel by the use of flashbacks as they slow the action down. Details are revealed gradually.
Imporant Quotes 2
“I feel like a spy in disguise as I walk the streets of Frenchtown.”. A simile, it gives us an image that fits in well with the novel because Francis is on a mission to kill Larry LaSalle. It also tells us that Francis is trying hard to disguise himself.
"I think of my old platoon… We were only there… Who were not only there but who stayed, did not run away, fought the good war.” Francis describes heroes as the ordinary soldiers who didn't try and kill themselves to leave but stayed. He thinks of his friend, Enrico Rucelli and Arthur Rivier.
“It’s amazing that the heart makes no noise when it cracks.”, This quote shows how effective Francis is when he discovers that Nicole has been *****, his heart is broken when he sees Nicoles face and realises that she blames him for not protecting her.