In the novel heroes, we get a different view of heroes than we do in films. In films we think of a set of features which characterize the hero. Things like special outfits like Superman or Spiderman for example. In ‘Heroes’, characters that are presented as heroes don’t have special costumes that label them as a hero. In films there is usually a ‘goody’ and a ‘baddy’. In the end more often than not, the good defeats the bad.
In ‘Heroes’ it isn’t like this, the book doesn’t show one winner. Films often show the hero as good looking, in a costume with skills that make them appear invincible. In ‘Heroes they have skills which make people idolize them. They aren’t invincible and supernatural, they have skills which can be improved. In the book it’s more patriotic than in films.
In films the hero is often a fighter who fights for what they believe in, to protect others. In the book Francis receives a Silver Star for his bravery, he jumped on the grenade and he saved lives but his face was blown off in the process. He believes he didn’t deserve it, as he did it to kill himself.Order now
Unlike in films, Francis doesn’t like to show his medal off, he prefers to remain anonymous and hides his face, as he isn’t physically attractive. Larry shows his medals off and joined the army to be patriotic and to be seen as more of a hero.
In films heroes are shown to have no fear, they make jokes when they have a gun pointing to their head, and always have hope. The heroes in the novel are frightened, as the book explains, one solider was so frightened, he soiled himself.
Larry and Francis are both war heroes and heroes at home. Before the war Francis never felt he meant anything “I’m rotten a everything” but thanks to Larry who always believed in Francis, he became a table tennis champion. Everyone at the Wreck center looked up to Larry as a hero, even before the war. Francis also gained a Silver Star and people looked up to him, they saw his scars as signs of bravery. Francis however saw these scars as signs of cowardice as he got them trying to kill himself, not to save others.
In this section, I am going to look at how the writer introduces Francis, his relationship with Larry and how he develops throughout the story.
In the beginning the writer introduces Francis as “I have no face”. It immediately shocks the reader and makes you think why?
It doesn’t tell you about his personality just physical appearance, which he builds up gradually ” if anything bothers me, its my nose. Or rather the absence of my nose” This build up of physical features make you picture an image of Francis which horrifies you. Francis comes across as a very self-conscious person who is trying to hide something. He hides his face ” I wear a scarf that covers the lower part of my face” We don’t find out why he looks like this until later in the book.
Francis’ relationship with Larry is a positive relationship because of their bonding over the table tennis competition. Francis idolizes Larry, as everyone else does at the Wreck center including Nicole ” you and Nicole are special to me” Larry always believes in Francis. This positive relationship quickly turns to hatred as Francis witnesses Larry raping Nicole but doesn’t stop it. Everything changes but only for Francis and Nicole, as they are the only ones who know. Francis no longer worships him and becomes stronger. He wants to kill him. Francis loves Nicole and because Francis did nothing to stop Larry, Nicole hates Francis. ” More than angerâ€¦ my betrayal of her in her eyes” When Francis gets the chance to kill Larry he shows no mercy on him. He made him understand how he ruined Nicole’s life. He then walks away to leave Larry to deal with himself. We hear a gunshot but are left wondering whether he actually did commit suicide or shot the gun in the air and fled from Frenchtown. We never find out.
Throughout the story Francis’ confidence builds. After the rape his heart is broken and the relationship between Nicole and Francis changes, there is no longer any trust. ” You didn’t do anything. The accusation in her voice was worse than the harshness”. His self-hatred almost drives him to suicide. Instead he joins the army so he can die and this was the only way to free his mind of the guilt. Afterwards he received a Silver Star, for what he believes represents his cowardice, which is why he prefers to remain anonymous. When he leaves, Larry, he looks to the future, he knows he has to move on and leave Nicole. It’s all in the past. By the end of the story, Francis has learned that anyone can be a hero if you’re in the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time whichever way you look at it. He also learned that no one is a hero ” We were only there” just ordinary people who were there.
In this section I am going to look at war and how it is portrayed in the book.
Everything in the book is linked back to war. Even though only a small section is about the events on the battlefield, all of the consequences from it are seen through Larry and Francis’ lives in the book. The author doesn’t show war as heroic that’s the image we get of a stereotypical hero, which we think of, from stories and films. It tells us about the war in the flashbacks about fearful men who have done nothing heroic, not heroes’ just normal people ” we were only there” and how they were frightened and scared. Is that really one of the qualities of a hero? No. Not a stereotypical hero. Heroes in films are afraid of nothing. In the book it explains how one solider even soiled himself he was so scared. Stereotypical heroes stay cool in all situations. ‘Heroes’ gives a completely opposite portrayal of war heroes than in films. War isn’t heroic in the book.
In this section I am going to look at the language Cormier uses when talking about Francis.
Francis first appearance is shocking to the he reader, the writer makes the reader feel sorry Francis. Everyone seems to like him, as he talks friendly to the reader, like a conversation. This style is also used later in the book when Francs discovers he is different and explains how people were scared of him because of his face. ” I saw him peeking at me again with one big eye, before bursting into tears”. He tries to explain why the reader shouldn’t be frightened.
The first paragraph is setting the scene. Francis talks casually to the reader but then adds ” I have no face” This has a dramatic effect on the reader. Francis is very self-conscious he tries hard to hide his face ” head down, avoiding eye contact, wishing to be invisible” Invisible is a very powerful word that Cormier uses. That’s not like a stereotypical hero. Stereotypical heroes are labeled. Everyone recognizes them they are high profile. He doesn’t want anyone to see him; he is ashamed of his looks, where as a stereotypical hero would show off their scars as a sign of bravery and strength, his are a sign of cowardice. He talks about getting plastic surgery to the nun, when we know he is lying ” I wonder if it’s a special sin to lie to a nun”. The reader feels sympathetic towards Francis even though the image that is built up by the writer is a monster. Francis describes himself as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” Cormier also uses similes to describe the features of Francis’ face ” the nostrils like the snout of an animal”
Near to the end of the book Francis and Nicole decide never to see each other again. This is not like a stereotypical hero because the stereotypical hero e.g. James Bond always gets the girl. I think that it is quite a heroic thing that Francis does because as long as he is around, Nicole can’t move on with her life, she can’t move on from the rape. He leaves and they both look to the future ” I’ve got to go I say. My gift to her”
The book is written in both past and present. The reason the writer does this is because, at he start of the book he introduces Francis as “I have no face”. A later chapter explains why Francis has no face and the situation he is in at the present time with Nicole.
We find out that Francis tried to kill himself by jumping off the church but decides he can’t do it to himself which is why he enlists in the army and forges his birth certificate as he is so desperate to die. He joins so he can die a patriotic death, he couldn’t commit suicide, it wouldn’t be fair on his family.
We don’t know why he wanted to kill himself so desperately until the writer reveals that Francis witnessed Larry rape Nicole, and he didn’t do anything, by dying he would clear his mind of the guilt. Without this information we wouldn’t know why Francis wanted to kill Larry, everything leads back to the rape.
The ending is very important in telling us about the nature of a hero. Francis leaves Nicole to get on with her life and his own. He also didn’t kill Larry when he had the chance. These are heroic qualities. Although we are left to decide whether the ending is positive or not, he leaves carrying the gun, maybe it’s just in case his new life doesn’t work. He still has the easy way out.
In this piece of writing I have shown the difference between heroes in films and heroes in the book. I have also explained how the writer presented heroes in the novel.
The message about heroism in the book is two wrongs don’t make a right. Francis learns that by not shooting Larry. It can’t change the past even if it might make him feel better. We also learn that Francis has to move on and deal with the past.
Cormier leaves us to decide what a hero is, maybe there are no heroes, just people that happen to be in a certain place at a certain time. Cormier may be exploring himself, he may no know, but I think he is trying to explain that there are no heroes just normal people who happen to be there. ” We were only there”