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 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 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 single-sentence 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?