Chloe Colaco 9DC
How does Cormier present the ideas about heroes in his novel?
Robert Cormier’s book ‘Heroes’ opens by introducing us to the main character Francis Cassavant, a ex-military soldier, wounded by a grenade from when he fought in World War Two. There are three main characters in this book; Francis, Larry and Nicole. Throughout this book Cormier gives an insight into how all these characters interlock, with Francis’ mission, to kill Larry LaSalle.
In the first chapter of this book Cormier introduces us to the main character of Francis Cassavant, and how he is presented as a hero; this chapter is based entirely on his appearance after a grenade attack from when he fought in the war. Francis’ appearance has obviously changed dramatically as he refers to his face as a ‘gargoyle’ and that he has ‘no face’. Francis also refers to himself as the ‘hunchback of Notre Dame’ and that he is ugly with ‘no ears to speak of’ and ‘the absence of my nose’. This suggests that that he has been in a terrible accident and instantly makes you empathise, and feel sorry for him, but as you further progress through the book you see that maybe that Francis isn’t the hero and as innocent as he seems at first glance. To add further detail Cormier describes his nostrils as ‘two small caves’. This portrays his face as almost like a monster or a mutant. We can infer from the text that Francis has low self esteem and has little or no confidence in himself and when his doctor says ‘don’t expect anyone to pick you for a dance’ doesn’t really help with the fact when he knows he’s ‘not normal’. Francis hides his face with scarves, a hat and a bandage fastened with safety pins, hiding his face tell us that he does not want to be recognised or perhaps to be seen by anyone he knows in Frenchtown. ‘People glance at me in surprise’ and ‘I don’t blame them’ shows that Francis is obviously repulsed and disgusted by the way he looks but isn’t afraid to say so, and also if he looks terrifying and repulsive, he isn’t going to be thought of as a hero. After in depth of describing the physical description of Francis, Cormier then moves on to the main plot, Francis’ mission to kill Larry LaSalle, dropping in little hints and sending up an ‘our father’ and ‘ hail Mary’ and ‘glory be’ for Larry LaSalle, and sending up prayers for Nicole Renard, instantly bringing all the three main characters together but still keeping them separate and not knowing why they are interlocked and how everything is more complicated then it seems behind the eyes of Francis, Larry and Nicole, and how Francis and possibly Larry could either be heroes or cowards. Making Francis seem like an innocent war hero is an interesting and unusual move to make because it makes you feel sorry for Francis at the beginning but as the story unfolds you see that there is more than meets the eye about Francis and how his ‘heroic status’ isn’t as heroic as it seems.
One of the ways Cormier presents the concept of heroes is in chapter nine, the chapter when Larry LaSalle reveals he is going off to the ‘fight the japs’ in the Second World War. So when the news first broke that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbour in an attack, a wave of frenzy and fear washed over America. People had ‘patriotic fever’ meaning that they weren’t just feeling patriotic about their country; it was as though a fever had taken over and had plagued through everyone. That day Larry LaSalle stood before everyone in the wreck centre, his ‘movie-star smile gone replace with grim faced determination’ he was ready to go and ‘fight the japs’ he announced that he was going to war, he had ‘anger that we had never seen before flashing in his eyes’. From the quote we realise that Larry is passionate about fighting for his country, but from the way he displays and announces that he is leaving and going to war and when he says ‘none of that kids’ (referring to when the kids clap when he announces he’s going to war) ‘I’m just doing...
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