Heroes – Robert Cormier Key Quotations Chapter 1 – page 1 “My name is Francis Joseph Cassavant and I have just returned to Frenchtown in Monument and the war is over and I have no face.” Establishes the setting Introduces narrator in first person Surprising statement creates mystery Chapter 1 – page 1 “Oh, I have eyes… but no ears to speak of, just bits of dangling flesh. But that’s fine, like Dr Abrams says… He was joking, of course.” Conversational style of address Creates a close bond between the reader and the narrator Chapter 1 – page 1 Description of Francis’s physical injuries. Described in a matter-of-fact way Creates sympathy in the reader – but does Francis expect this? Makes the reader want to know why he looks like this Chapter 1 – page 2 “But not having much success” and “I don’t blame them” Francis has low self-esteem and lacks confidence Presented as single-sentence paragraphs to draw attention to them Chapter 1 – page 3 “This was proof that the scarf and the bandage were working in two ways: not only to hide the ugliness of what used to be my face, but to hide my identity.” Why is Francis trying to hide? Creates mystery Francis believes he is ugly Chapter 1 – page 4 “I thought of Nicole Renard, realizing I had not thought of her for, oh, maybe two hours.” First mention of Nicole Suggests Francis may be in love with her Makes the reader ask questions Chapter 1 – page 4 “She had always been generous when I did her errands and her tips paid for my ten-cent movie tickets at the Plymouth on Saturday afternoons.” Francis knows Mrs Belander from before the war In a first reading, the Plymouth seems unimportant Chapter 1 – page 4 “At that moment, I knew that I was really anonymous, that I wasn’t Francis Joseph Cassavant anymore but a tenant in Frenchtown.” Why does Francis want to be anonymous? Contrasts with the opening sentence Chapter 1 – page 5 “I was home again in Frenchtown. I thought of the gun hidden away in my duffel bag and knew that my mission was about to begin.” What is Francis’s mission? Why does he have a gun? Creates mystery and suspense Chapter 1 – page 5 Francis briefly mentions his dead father and mother, and younger brother. This is one of the few times they are mentioned in the novel Why doesn’t Francis talk about them more often? He wants to forget the past Chapter 1 – page 6 “Then I am filled with guilt and shame, knowing that I just prayed for the man I am going to kill.” Francis frequently feels guilt and shame This section emphasises his religious feelings Statement creates dramatic tension Chapter 1 – page 7 “‘You’re a big hero,’ he said. ‘A Silver Star hero.’” This is the first reference to being a hero in the novel The reader wonders why Francis has been awarded the Silver Star Chapter 1 – page 7 “I am not a hero, of course, and I turn away in disgust.” Francis has low self-esteem Why doesn’t he believe he is a hero? Why does he say “of course”? Chapter 1 – page 7 “And even though I am home from the war, I wonder if I will ever see her again.” The chapter ends on a cliff-hanger Where is Nicole? What happened to her? Chapter 2 – page 8 “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.” Francis’s first description of Nicole shows how he reveres her Over-exaggeration Chapter 2 – page 9 “Was the look that passed between us that first day a wish of my imagination?” Emphasises Francis’s lack of self-esteem Is this typical teenage angst? Chapter 2 – page 12 “I never knew love could be so agonising.” This is ironic For Francis, his love for Nicole does become agony Chapter 2 – page 12 “I wondered whether she’d been waving at Joey LeBlanc or me.” Again, Francis lacks the confidence to believe that Nicole could be attracted to him Is he trying to make us feel sorry for him? Chapter 3 – page 13 “I feel like a spy in disguise as I walk the streets of Frenchtown.” This is a simile It is an effective image to begin this chapter with as it reminds us of Francis’s mission Chapter 3 – page 14 “The Great Gatsby which I’d heard was a great novel… We drank vin rouge like the heroes in a Hemingway novel.” Francis refers to classic American Literature This is the first mention of his interest in reading and writing Suggests an autobiographical link with Cormier Chapter 3 – page 15 “All kinds of rumours about her Francis. She began to stay at home… She was like… a hermit.” Adds to the mystery of Nicole Renard Shows that Francis did end up goingout with Nicole but that something must have gone wrong Chapter 3 – page 15 Francis explains that he joined the army at fifteen. This makes the reader ask lots of questions e.g. Why did he enlist? Why wasn’t he missed? How did he feel about this? Chapter 3 – page 16 “I can keep going on a minimum of food because I lost my appetite somewhere in France and eat now only to sustain myself for a while.” Suggests that Francis has given up hope Doesn’t reveal why he has no appetite Chapter 3 – pages 18 – 20 Francis dreams about the war in France This suggests Cormier’s attitude to war and what is expected of soldiers. It contrasts with the romantic and heroic descriptions we might expect It is a dramatic and horrifying description Chapter 3 – page 18 “Not like the war movies at the Plymouth, nobody displaying heroics or bravado” Francis repeats the idea that he wasn’t heroic or brave Chapter 3 – page 19 “I explode into wakefulness… my bursts of gunfire killed the soldiers quickly, no exploding head, no body cut in two… I saw how young they were, boys with apple cheeks, too young to shave. Like me.” Francis explains that his dream is more graphic than reality He creates a link between himself and the German soldiers Chapter 3 – page 20 “The next day, the grenade blows my face away.” We finally find out what happened to Francis, however he never tells us this part of the story – we only find out from others later on. Made dramatic by being a singlesentence paragraph in simple language Chapter 3 – page 20 “Ignore it all, I tell myself, and count your blessings.” Francis is being ironic He has no pity for himself He is committed to carrying-out his mission Chapter 4 – page 21 “I wanted to be like them, these heroes, fighting the Japs and the Germans, going off to battles on land and sea.” Francis used to have a romantic idea about war Later, he learns that they weren’t heroes they “were only there” (page 47) Chapter 4 – page 22 “Big Boy… is now sleek and hard with no soft edges.” The war has transformed Big Boy physically There are many ‘then and now’ comparisons within the novel showing the effect of war Chapter 4 – page 24 “I am not the hero he thinks I am, not like the other veterans here in the St Jude’s Club” Again, Francis says that he is not a hero He compares himself with everybody else for a negative effect Francis feels that he doesn’t belong here Chapter 5 – page 25 “It’s a bad luck place, people had said. A place of doom, others added” The first description of the Wreck Centre suggests the tragedy that will take place there. The words are highlighted by being in single-sentence paragraphs. Chapter 5 – page 26 “The men worked frantically… but the work was haphazard.” The Rec Centre was part of the ‘New Deal’ programme during the Depression Unemployed people were paid by the Government to work on projects like this Chapter 5 – page 27 “A tall slim man stepped into view, a lock of blond hair tumbling over his forehead, a smile that revealed dazzling movie-star teeth.” First description of Larry LaSalle Emphasises his good looks Francis clearly admires him Chapter 5 – page 27 “He was most of all a teacher.” As a teacher, Larry has a responsibility to all the children in his care Larry is also described as an athlete and a dancer – everyone in Frenchtown is impressed by these qualities Francis’s language shows his admiration for Larry Chapter 5 – page 28 “I had never been a hero in such places, too short and uncoordinated for baseball and too timid to join the gangs.” Another reference to being a hero Francis focuses on the negative qualities ‘Timid’ suggests he is afraid Chapter 5 – page 28 “I had no best friend.” Other than Nicole and Larry, Francis never really connects with anyone else As a child he is a loner, which emphasises the tragedy of Nicole’s rejection and Larry’s betrayal Chapter 5 – page 28 “I discovered Ernest Hemingway and Tom Wolfe and Jack London and rushed home with an armful of books.” Francis shows his interest in literature These writers are very masculine – their books are about adventure Reading separates Francis from other people Chapter 5 – page 28 “Home was now the tenement where I lived with my Uncle Louis… He took me in after my father died.” This is striking because Francis doesn’t describe these events He chooses to forget memories from the past that might distract him from his mission Chapter 5 – page 29 “He tamed the notorious schoolyard bully… ‘But he still beats kids up in the schoolyard,’ Joey LeBlanc observed.” Francis recounts Larry’s achievements but he suggests that they were only cosmetic (on the surface) Chapter 5 – page 29 “There were dark hints that he had ‘gotten into trouble’ in New York City… The air of mystery that surrounded him added to his glamour.” This is the first hint that something is wrong with Larry in the flashback narrative Francis uses the language of celebrity to characterise Larry’s appeal to the people Chapter 5 – page 30 “She seemed to exist in a world of her own, like a rare specimen, bird-like and graceful, separate from the rest of the dancers.” Francis describes Nicole using a simile Again, he suggests that she is unique She is separate – just like him Chapter 5 – page 30 “Joey LeBlanc angered me when he said he could feel that old doom hanging over the place.” Loops-back to the beginning of the chapter Reinforces the idea that something terrible is going to happen Chapter 6 – page 31 “I watch for Larry LaSalle, for that Fred Astaire strut and the movie-star smile.” In the present, Francis’s description of Larry has become an insult He sees him as fake and insincere Chapter 6 – page 31 “This is the pause between one life and another.” Francis is talking about Arthur, Armand and Joe, but he could be talking about himself His life has paused since he returned – he will only move on once his mission is complete Chapter 6 – page 32 Francis describes a pause in the conversation and the war injuries of his acquaintances Everybody seems to be getting on with their lives, but Francis recognises that they are still scarred by their injuries e.g. “there’s a sudden flash of what – terror? bad dreams?” Chapter 6 – page 34 “‘You deserve to be recognised, Francis,’ he whispers. ‘You’re a goddam hero… How many men were you willing to die for?’” Arthur reveals a secret that Francis has not told us yet – why don’t we know? Why is Francis ashamed of his actions? Chapter 7 – page 36 “He found me sitting alone on the back steps of the Wreck Centre, looking at nothing in particular. There was nothing in my world that was worth looking at.” Emphasises Francis’s isolation Follows the death of his father Chapter 7 – page 39 “Jealousy streaked through me as Larry LaSalle tossed her in the air… pressing her close, their faces almost touching, their lips only an inch or so from a kiss.” Already, there is jealousy in the triangular relationship between Larry, Francis and Nicole Who is Francis jealous of? Chapter 7 – page 39 “His eyes shone with admiration when I made an unusual shot.” Francis seeks Larry’s admiration Table tennis represents the first thing that Francis has ever enjoyed, apart from reading Chapter 7 – page 39 “I’m not supposed to play favourites, Francis, but you and Nicole are special to me.” Larry makes it clear that there is a special bond between the three characters He shouldn’t have favourites but he breaks this ‘rule’ Chapter 7 – page 40 “For the first time in my life, a tide of confidence swept through me.” Nicole has said she likes to watch Francis play Francis highlights this moment by the use of paragraphs Chapter 7 – page 40 & 41 “Her words filled me with both delight and agony, delight at her invitation and the instant agony of jealousy, the way she had casually said his name… ‘Larry’, spoken offhand as if they were more than teacher and pupil.” Why does Francis feel jealous? Is he jealous because Nicole is close to Larry? Is he jealous Larry likes Nicole? Chapter 7 – page 45 “My eyes sought Nicole, found her joyous face, hands joined together, as if in prayer, eyes half-closed as if making herself an offering to me.” Francis gains confidence from beating Larry Again he describes Nicole using religious imagery – he makes her into an idol Chapter 8 – page 46 “I want to talk about it, my war… And your war, too, Francis. Everybody’s war. The war nobody wants to talk about.” Arthur Rivier shows that people are trying to ignore the effects of the war They are not addressing their problems – instead they hide their emotions Chapter 8 – page 46 & 47 “The scared war… God, but I was scared, Francis.” Arthur remembers the terror he felt He describes a war that Francis can relate to – Francis was also terrified Chapter 8 – page 47 “No heroes in that scrap-book, Francis. Only us, the boys of Frenchtown. Scared and homesick and cramps in the stomach and vomit. Nothing glamorous like the write-ups in the papers or the newsreels. We weren’t heroes. We were only there…” This shows Cormier’s attitude to war Arthur describes the reality of war in graphic details Chapter 9 – page 49 “A thrill went through me – a wartime secret in Frenchtown! Should we be on the look-out for spies?” As a child, Francis shares the excited romantic anticipation of the war In reality, mainland America was very secure Chapter 9 – page 50 “We cheered our fighting forces and booed and hissed when Hitler came on the screen, his arm always raised in that hated salute.” The newsreel footage becomes an entertainment Civilians saw the war as dramatic and exciting Chapter 9 – page 51 “‘How about writing books? Didn’t you win Sister Mathilde’s medal for composition?’ ‘Oh, I could never write a book.’ ‘I think you could.’ Similar to Cormier’s own life Nicole has confidence in Francis This will be returned to at the end Chapter 9 – page 53 “We were stunned to suddenly see Larry LaSalle featured in the Movietone News. He was unshaven, face gaunt and drawn, eyes sunk deep into their sockets.” Larry is the first ‘victim’ of the war The war is having a physical effect on him Chapter 10 – page 55 “When I study myself in the mirror, I don’t see me any more but a stranger slowly taking shape.” The war has changed Francis as a person He is gradually becoming someone new This transformation symbolises what has happened to Francis Chapter 10 – page 55 “The truth is that I don’t care whether I heal or not. Because I know that it doesn’t matter.” Francis has lost all hope He is not asking the reader for sympathy – he no longer cares about himself Chapter 10 – page 55 “I knew what he meant by disposal because I had planned my own method after my mission was completed.” Francis implies that after killing Larry he will kill himself He appears to be committed to ending his own life Chapter 11 – pages 57 – 64 This is the turning point in the novel Francis deliberately emphasises Larry’s heroic qualities in order to show how evil his actions are at the end of the chapter Dramatic tension is built up throughout the chapter Chapter 11 – page 57 “Lt. Lawrence LaSalle… holder of the Silver Star for acts of heroism… was coming home on furlough.” The introduction to this chapter builds up anticipation Larry’s heroism will contrast with his actions at the end Chapter 11 – page 57 “A moment later, Larry LaSalle stood on the platform, resplendent in the green uniform… He smiled, the old movie-star smile.” Larry is described like the typical movie war hero Movie heroes are only actors, however, and their performance is a fraud Reference to “movie-star smile” reminds us he is a fake Chapter 11 – page 58 “Fred Astaire still in his walk but something different about him. His slenderness was knife-like now, lethal.” The movie-star image is contrasted with one of violence Larry is a killer and Francis implies he is dangerous Chapter 11 – page 58 “Larry was our hero, yes, but he had been a hero to us long before he went to war.” Francis reminds us that Larry is admired by everyone in Frenchtown This helps to reinforce his unforgivable behaviour towards Nicole later in the chapter Chapter 11 – page 58 “His eyes moved to Nicole and I saw the rush of affection on his face.” There is a sexual chemistry between Nicole and Larry Does Francis misinterpret Larry’s feelings towards Nicole? Chapter 11 – page 59 “‘I’m glad to be home, even if it’s only for a little while. And most of all I want to be with the Wreck Centre gang.’ Once again he made us feel special.” There is something suspicious about the fact that a grown-up wants to spend his time with children Francis is providing clues for the reader Chapter 11 – page 60 “‘I’ll buy you one like that someday,’ I whispered in her ear, my voice trembling a bit, betraying my love for her. Squeezing my hand, she leaned towards me and her warm cheek rested against mine.” Francis is describing the perfect evening between them both He indicates that he wants to be with her forever This emphasises the tragedy of this chapter Chapter 11 – page 60 “Once, Nicole whispered: ‘Stay close to me,’ as we resumed our parade… a thrill went through me like a jolt as I pulled her close and said: ‘I’ll never leave you.’ This is a lie – Francis leaves her at the worst possible moment As Francis is telling the story, he must realise how ironic this promise is – it helps to build dramatic tension Chapter 11 – pages 61 – 62 Quotations that create dramatic tension: “The day had not been long enough for me.” (61) = doubt “His face was flushed and his eyes shone with excitement.” (62) = sexual tension “The words sounded false as I said them and I realised they were Larry’s words, not mine.” (62) = Larry is in control of Francis Chapter 11 – page 62 “I really wanted to stay, wanted to be a part of them.” Reminds us that Francis has never been intimate with anyone Suggests his suspicion that something is wrong Echoed by Nicole, who doesn’t want him to leave Chapter 11 – page 63 “I made my way towards the front door but drew back, didn’t leave, stationed myself in the small foyer… miserable in my aloneness, wanting to be dancing with her, the way Larry LaSalle was dancing with her, holding her close…” “Miserable in my aloneness” – sums up Francis throughout the novel He knows something is wrong but is impotent to do anything Chapter 11 – page 63 “I heard a sigh and a sound that could have been a moan and a rustle of clothing.” This is Francis’s description of the rape Did he know what was happening? How much does the reader have to guess about what has happened? Why? Chapter 11 – page 63 “How long did I stand there listening?... I couldn’t breathe, my body rigid, my lungs burning… What were they doing?” Francis’s description suggests he knows what they were doing Rhetorical questions suggest he knows the answer but still can’t face the truth He is terrified of the truth because he has done nothing and still feels guilty Chapter 11 – page 63 “But I knew what they were doing – the thought streaked through my mind so fast it could hardly be acknowledged.” Francis is forced to admit the truth to the reader He confesses to us – is the whole novel a confession of his sin before he kills himself? Chapter 11 – page 64 “I recognised in her eyes what I could not deny: betrayal. My betrayal of her in her eyes.” Francis feels ashamed because he did not stop Larry from hurting Nicole He believes that she blames him Repetition emphasises this Chapter 11 – page 64 “It’s amazing that the heart makes no noise when it cracks.” The chapter ends with a dramatic image This contrasts with how Francis had been feeling throughout the chapter Chapter 12 – page 65 “For three days, I haunted Sixth Street at all hours.” The use of the word ‘haunted’ suggests that Francis is like a ghost Nicole’s feelings for him have died Chapter 12 – page 65 “A kind of bogey man who does terrible things like letting his girl get hurt and attacked, purposely avoiding in my mind that terrible word: what had actually happened to her.” Francis feels guilt and blames himself He chooses to ignore that which causes him most pain – he does this elsewhere in the book Chapter 12 – page 66 “I could not sleep at night… glad for the heat that was so relentless, as if it was part of the hell that I had earned.” Francis blames himself rather than Larry He punishes himself, using religious imagery of suffering and purgatory Chapter 12 – page 67 “I could only stand there mute, as if all my sins had been revealed and there was no forgiveness for them.” Francis is using Catholic imagery He is punishing himself, taking all the blame away from Larry He then turns to the church for help Chapter 12 – page 68 “Saying a prayer before committing the worst sin of all: despair… I thought of my mother and father – could I disgrace their name this way?” Suicide is absolutely the worst sin that a Catholic can commit Francis is ashamed at the thought of letting his parents down Chapter 12 – page 69 “I could not die that way. Soldiers were dying with honour on battlefields all over the world. Noble deaths. The deaths of heroes. How could I die by leaping from a steeple?” The theme of heroism returns again Is Francis trying to be a hero or is he trying to die? Notice the use of sentence structures for effect Chapter 13 – page 70 “I always thought I would spot Larry LaSalle on Third Street, would see him striding along like Fred Astaire, bestowing that movie-star smile on people that he met.” Francis reminds us of how fake Larry is by repeating the movie-star image There is no sense of admiration in the way he says this Chapter 13 – page 71 “I have heard enough. Larry LaSalle has returned to Frenchtown. And I know where to find him.” Use of single-sentence paragraphs Use of present tense Builds up dramatic tension Chapter 14 – page 72 “The gun is like a tumour on my thigh.” Simile Shows that Francis feels what he is about to do is wrong Chapter 14 – page 72 “I am calm. My heartbeat is normal. What’s one more death after the others in the villages and fields of France? The innocent faces of the two young Germans appear in my mind. But Larry LaSalle is not innocent.” Suggests Francis has killed more people than we know about Rhetorical question suggests his guilt Chapter 14 – page 73 “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 like the other war veterans in that the war has had a major impact on his appearance Does Francis feel pity for him? Chapter 14 – page 73 “‘Don’t be afraid to show your face, Francis. That face, what’s left of it, is a symbol of how brave you were, the Silver Star you earned…’” Larry is still trying to teach Francis Is Larry’s physical appearance a symbol of what he has done? Chapter 14 – page 74 “A deep sadness settles on me, as if winter has invaded my bones.” Simile Winter is a dead time – to what extent is Francis dead inside? He is saddened by remembering the past and the Wreck Centre Chapter 14 – page 74 “Why did it have to turn out like this? Maybe your sins catching up with you.” The italics represent Francis’s inner voice They show what he wants to say but can’t say Chapter 14 – page 75 “I had always wanted to be a hero, like Larry LaSalle, but had been a fake all along. And now I am tired of the deception and have to rid myself of the fakery.” Francis views his actions as a fraud – he is not really a hero This quote shows that he has realised Larry is a fake Francis confesses to Larry that he is not a hero Chapter 14 – page 75 “‘I went to war because I wanted to die… I was too much of a coward to kill myself. In the war, in a battle, I figured it would be easy to get killed.” Francis’s explanation twists his feelings into self-accusation – he believes himself a coward despite everything he has done Chapter 14 – page 76 “‘Oh, Francis. You’re too hard on yourself. You didn’t do anything you should feel guilty about, that should make you want to die. You couldn’t have stopped me, anyway, Francis. You were just a child.’” Larry tries to take the blame away from Francis He tries to make him realise it wasn’t his fault Does Larry feel guilty? Chapter 14 – page 76 “‘The sweet young things, Francis. Even their heat is sweet…’ Sweet young things. Had he done it before?” It is suggested that Larry has done this before Larry sees the girls as treats or gifts – he tries to excuse his behaviour Chapter 14 – page 77 “‘Does that one sin of mine wipe away all the good things?’” The most important quote in the novel! The nature of heroes is the main theme in the novel Cormier leaves it up to the reader to decide, but clearly the answer is yes Francis avoids answering the question Chapter 14 – page 77 “‘If I want one thing, it would be to have you look at me again the way you did at the Wreck Centre. When I was the big hero you say I was.’” Why does Larry care what Francis thinks? Chapter 14 – page 78 “‘Let me tell you one thing before you go, Francis. You would have fallen on that grenade, anyway. All your instincts would have made you sacrifice yourself for your comrades.’ Still trying to make me better than I am.” Larry recognises that Francis is a true hero Typically Francis rejects this – he has no faith in himself Chapter 14 – page 79 “The sound of a pistol shot cracks the air. My hand is on the doorknob. The sound from this distance is almost like a ping-pong ball striking the table.” This simile is used in an ironic way – table tennis made Francis feel special and is connected to Larry Now he calls it ‘ping-pong’ – a game not a sport not requiring any skill (page 37) Chapter 15 – page 80 “The sound of the doorbell echoes unendingly through the long corridors of the convent. Waiting, I step back and look at the faded red-brick exterior of the building and the black forbidding shutters at the windows.” Creates mystery – why is Francis here? Sense of exclusion – ‘echoes’, ‘forbidding’ Change of tone from the drama of the previous chapter Chapter 15 – page 81 “‘Has she gone away to become a nun?’ I ask. The possibility dashes my hopes of ever seeing her again. Francis reveals his reasons for being here This is the first time Francis has ever expressed a sense of hope, but, as usual, he takes a pessimistic view Chapter 15 – page 82 “‘I hope your face heals soon, Francis’… I wonder if it’s a special sin to lie to a nun.” Francis lies about his intentions He is obsessed with the idea of sin Chapter 16 – page 83 “For one lightning moment, I don’t recognise her… Now her hair is cut short and combed straight and flat… Her cheek-bones are more prominent and her eyes seem to be bigger, I look at her as if studying a painting in a museum.” Nicole has been physically transformed by her experiences Francis still sees her as a work of art Chapter 16 – page 84 “‘This is nothing… It’s not as bad as it looks…’ Still lying but not to a nun.” Francis differentiates between his lies, showing his feelings about religion He implies that he has thought about his “proper method of disposal” (chapter 10) Chapter 16 – page 84 “‘Did to me?’ What day? ‘I shouldn’t have said those things to you that day… You weren’t to blame for what happened’” Like Larry, Nicole tells Francis that it wasn’t his fault Does Francis believe her? Chapter 16 – page 85 “‘Don’t say it, Francis. I know what he was. For a while there he made me feel special. Made us all feel special.’” Describes Larry’s effect on the children Contrasts the public and private life of Larry Chapter 16 – page 85 “‘Are you going to write? I always thought you’d be a writer.’ ‘I don’t know.’ Which is the truth, for a change.” Provides a biographical link with the author Provides hope for Francis Chapter 16 – page 85 “To see if maybe you could still be my girl. Which would maybe change my mind about the gun in my duffel bag.” This is Francis’s hope – that he and Nicole could still be together How realistic is this hope Francis’s inner thoughts shown by the italics Chapter 16 – page 86 “‘Who was I going to tell...? He was a big war hero.’” Again, Cormier challenges the idea of what makes someone a hero Chapter 16 – page 87 “‘When the doctor fixes up my face, I’ll send you a picture.’ ‘Promise?’ ‘Promise,’ I answer, although I know that I will never keep that promise and she probably doesn’t expect me to.” This is the last of the promises that are broken i.e. what Francis promises Nicole in chapter 12 It is another clue that Francis intends to kill himself. Chapter 16 – page 88 “‘I don’t know what a hero is anymore, Nicole.’ I think of Larry LaSalle and his Silver Star. And my own Silver Star, for an act of cowardice. ‘Write about it Francis. Maybe you can find the answer that way.’” The main question of the novel is ‘what is a hero?’ Ironically, Francis does write about it – does the novel provide any answers? Chapter 17 – page 89 “I remember what I said to Nicole about not remembering who the real heroes are. 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 recalls Arthur’s words Cormier considers what was asked of the young soldiers and suggests Francis really is a hero Chapter 17 – page 89 “And didn’t receive a Silver Star. But heroes anyway. The real heroes. Maybe if I’m going to write as Nicole hopes I will, I should write about them.” Is the book dedicated to the people Francis considers real heroes? He sees his medal as a fraud – is it because Larry won one as well as wasn’t a hero? Chapter 17 – page 90 “Maybe I should…” Francis uses conditionals to introduce his options He thinks about what he could do Chapter 17 – page 90 “I think of the gun inside the duffel bag at my feet… The weight is nice and comfortable.” The gun gives him comfort The ending of the novel is ambiguous – does he kill himself?
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