Heroes - Robert Cormier

Heroes - Robert Cormier

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 thats 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 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 wasnt 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 Franciss mission? Why does he have a gun? Creates mystery and suspense Chapter 1 page 7

Youre 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 doesnt he believe he is a hero? Why does he say of course? 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. Franciss first description of Nicole shows how he reveres her Over-exaggeration 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 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 Franciss mission

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 going-out 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 wasnt 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 Doesnt reveal why he has no appetite Chapter 3 pages 18 20 Francis dreams about the war in France

This suggests Cormiers 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 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 24 I am not the hero he thinks I am, not like the other veterans here in the St Judes Club

Again, Francis says that he is not a hero He compares himself with everybody else for a negative effect Francis feels that he doesnt belong here Chapter 5 page 25 Its a bad luck place, people had said. A place of doom, others added

The first description of the Wreck Centre foreshadows and 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 Franciss 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 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 6 page 31 I watch for Larry LaSalle, for that Fred Astaire strut and the moviestar smile. In the present, Franciss description of Larry has become an insult

He sees him as fake and insincere Chapter 6 page 34 You deserve to be recognised, Francis, he whispers. Youre a goddam hero How many men were you willing to die for? Arthur reveals a secret that Francis has not told us yet why dont 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 Franciss 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 Larrys admiration Table tennis represents the first thing that Francis has ever enjoyed, apart from reading Chapter 7 page 39

Im 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 shouldnt have favourites but he breaks this rule 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 off-hand 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 8 page 46 I want to talk about it, my war And your war, too, Francis. Everybodys 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 writeups in the papers or the newsreels. We werent heroes. We were only there This shows Cormiers 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? Didnt you win Sister Mathildes medal for composition? Oh, I could never write a book. I think you could. Similar to Cormiers 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 dont 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 dont care whether I heal or not. Because I know that it doesnt 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 Larrys 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

Larrys 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 Larrys feelings towards Nicole? Chapter 11 page 59 Im glad to be home, even if its 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 Ill 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: Ill 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 Larrys 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 doesnt want him to leave Chapter 11 page 63 I made my way towards the front door but drew back, didnt 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 Franciss 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 couldnt breathe, my body rigid, my lungs burning What were they doing? Franciss description suggests he knows what they were doing Rhetorical questions suggest he knows the answer but still cant 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 Its 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 Nicoles 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.

Whats 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 Dont be afraid to show your face, Francis. That face, whats left of it, is a symbol of how brave you were, the Silver Star you earned Larry is still trying to teach Francis Is Larrys 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 Franciss inner voice They show what he wants to say but cant 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. Franciss explanation twists his feelings into self-accusation he believes himself a coward despite everything he has done

Chapter 14 page 76 Oh, Francis. Youre too hard on yourself. You didnt do anything you should feel guilty about, that should make you want to die. You couldnt 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 wasnt 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 pingpong 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 its 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 dont 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 Its 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 shouldnt have said those things to you that day You werent to blame for what happened Like Larry, Nicole tells Francis that it wasnt his fault

Does Francis believe her? Chapter 16 page 85 Dont say it, Francis. I know what he was. For a while there he made me feel special. Made us all feel special. Describes Larrys effect on the children Contrasts the public and private life

of Larry Chapter 16 page 85 Are you going to write? I always thought youd be a writer. I dont 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 Franciss hope that he and Nicole could still be together How realistic is this hope Franciss 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, Ill send you

a picture. Promise? Promise, I answer, although I know that I will never keep that promise and she probably doesnt 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 dont 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 Arthurs words

Cormier considers what was asked of the young soldiers and suggests Francis really is a hero Chapter 17 page 89 And didnt receive a Silver Star. But heroes anyway. The real heroes. Maybe if Im 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 wasnt a hero? 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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