Does anyone know any good revision sources or points I could use for this book?I can't find any!!
Heroes English lit Watch
- Thread Starter
- 25-05-2016 16:47
- 26-05-2016 21:29
Well first of all, The Novel begins with:
"The war is over and I have no face". You could expand on this point, say how it adds the effect of Misery and self-doubt.
"It will always be Nicole Renard" Adds a sense of true love, affection and sadness.
"My gun is stuck to my leg like a tumour" It's violent and mysterious.
These are all I've got for now, but I'll update you when I have more!
- 26-05-2016 21:37
No resources/links but here are my general notes (ask me if you want the characters too):
The book is based in the 1940s in which society lionises veterans and the effects of WW1 on them in these days are explored in the book using Francis, Larry and some minor characters. War inherently affects Larry and Francis in different ways. Men like Arthur Riviere struggle under the expectations of being a hero. if you treat men like heroes rather than normal people ("we weren't heroes; we were only there" you don't give them the support that they need to deal with issues like PTSD, physical injuries, alcoholism, a lack of a place/career/sense of purposefulness back in society. The Jude's Club regulars, Arthur, Enrico and Francis all show these problems but nobody helps them - they just assume that they are heroes so they are fine.
Larry is described as “Pied Piper” - who hypnotises and kills the children - because his charisma and talent is almost hypnotic and he uses it to damage the children of the book.There is a recurring motif of silver within the book; there is a silver trophy,silver stars,silver screen and silver key. Arthur’s face is described as like the “mask of tragedy”. The simile suggests the way war veterans are forced into wearing masks (the mask of comedy - the smiling face) to hide the pain from war. Then the true mask he wears (the crying face of tragedy is revealed when Francis finds him drunk in Pee Alley. The ultimate metaphorical mask is the one Francis wears. He literally loses his face and has to rebuild a system of layers (the cap, the jacket and the white scarf) to hide his identity.The rec. Centre is described as the “Wreck Centre” throughout the book. The Recreation Centre is where Larry wrecks both Francis and Nicole’s lives. Even when it was Grenier’s Hall, it wrecked the lives of Marie Blanche-Touraine.Nicole is described as St Therese which suggests the way Francis fantasises an unrealistic and overly romanticised idea of saintly perfection in her. Francis cannot kill himself at the top of the church because of his religion. He hides in the confession box to symbolise his guilt and the heat in Chapter 12 - after the assault - represents the personal hell he has put himself in.
The author’s message:
‘My heroes are the ordinary people who do their duty quietly, without fanfare, whether it’s fighting a war or going to work everyday’Heroes aren’t special: they’re everyday people with flaws and fears. Eg. Uncle Louis not Larry. He is criticising the overly simplified binary terms we see people in: good or evil, perfect or monsters, heroes or villains. No-one is perfect and no-one is without redeeming qualities: “everybody sins Francis” and “does that one sin of mine wipe away all the good?”. He also has a message about the way war veterans were treated after WWII. The GI Bill and the way the media and society pigeonholed them into brave superheroes put them under unrealistic expectations and forced them to cover up their issues.
The novel is fragmented (flashbacks) which suggests his unstable mind; the constant flashbacks also suggest his obsession with, and inability to let go of, the past. The table tennis match foreshadows the confrontation with Larry and the symbolic battle for Nicole
How does Cormier present the theme of Heroism in the novel? Heroism is, as you might expect, a central theme in the novel. Cormier uses various characters in order to explore the questions of what makes a hero, and even if they truly exist at all.Many characters in the novel are considered heroic. For example, Francis is considered a hero for saving his fellow soldiers from the grenade “how many men did you save, Francis?”. Larry, too, is a war hero as he “captures enemy, saves fellow marines.” But already, the two represent different kinds of heroism. Larry’s is that of the propaganda of the time – the brave, superhuman soldier who isn’t afraid of anyone, fighting the “Japs” and the “Germans” fearlessly overseas. He is idolised by all and they cheer him when he is on the “silver screen” at the Plymouth.Francis, by contrast, is pitied by those he meets because of his disfigurement – Mrs. Belander calls him “poor boy.” In my opinion, Francis’ self-sacrifice is more heroic than LaSalle’s heroism as he will have to live with the consequences of saving those men for the rest of his life – Cormier makes a point of emphasising the constant physical discomfort he is in “my thighs sting when my pants rub against them”. The difference between how Francis is treated and the treatment of other veterans, such as those he meets at the St. Jude’s club, does however highlight the narrow view the public held of the ways that war affects people. Arthur, Armand et al. are expected to act like heroes and are not allowed to acknowledge their own, less visible scars, which puts them under considerable pressure – Arthur Rivier, when drunk in pee alley, confesses to Francis that the veterans “talk about GI Bills and going to college…but they don’t talk about the war”. Being recognised as a hero is more of a burden to these men.Another central issue surrounding heroism is that of actions vs. motives: can a person be a hero due to what they have done, even if it was done for un-heroic reasons? Francis didn’t want to save those men, or at least he believes that much – he wanted to die, which by Francis’ religious standards is a sin. Arthur confesses to Francis just how afraid he was, even describing his war as “the scared war.” Furthermore, men like Arthur probably signed up largely to live up to the standards of others – they are expected to be heroes. Even Larry, although we are not explicitly told this, may have enlisted for the wrong reasons – he is cheered by the children when he announces that he is “one of the first” to sign up. To the end he is preoccupied with the “good things” he has done, showing that he may have enlisted to improve his public appearance – for the glory, as it were. This is already less heroic than Francis, as Francis wants to die due to his own sense of right and wrong. The guilt that makes Francis feel like he is not a hero is perhaps the most important sign that he is one. Perhaps his motive isn’t heroic, but he acknowledges this and does not purport to be a hero “Are you the bogey man? Yes, I wanted to say. The kind who does terrible things like letting his girl get hurt and attacked”.This makes me think that the most heroic are, again, those who have suffered to bring about change and help others, even if that was only by “staying, fighting the good war.” Being scared doesn’t make you unheroic, nor does being unglamorous, “grunting, hissing and vomiting” like the men in Francis’ platoon. If anything, sticking it out despite being afraid is more heroic than lapping up the glory and attention, as the propaganda’s “heroes” were expected to. We see this in the clear juxtaposition of soldiers in the final chapter – the idealised “master sergeant” with “his array of ribbons” and the reality of a young “unshaven” soldier with his “soiled and stained” battle jacket.A final question – can someone be a hero even if they have done monstrous things? Can heroism atone for your sins, or does sin corrupt irrevocably, such that no amount of enemies captured or men saved can balance your moral scales? At the end of the novel, Larry remains unrepentant for ruining the lives of the “sweet young things,” as he calls them – the children he has raped. He feels his work at the wreck centre and later in the war, even if they were insincere and calculated to improve his own appearance, make up for those sins. I would argue otherwise, because he refuses to truly repent for what he has done.Yes, Francis allowed Larry to rape Nicole, but, stepping back, you can see that he was really powerless and as much of a victim as she was – Larry admits as much “You couldn’t have stopped me, anyway, Francis” and Nicole refers to this too “You weren’t to blame for what happened”. But more than that, he is consumed by guilt and does not think he is a hero, instead remaining convinced that he is as monstrous as his appearance, like the “Hunchback of Notre Dame.” And this is precisely why, in my eyes, it is possible to see Francis as a hero where Larry is not.
Overall though, such black and white distinctions of “hero” and “monster” do not fit neatly with the real world. Ultimately the only conclusion that we can really draw is that nobody is perfect, but that there is often good where it is not expected. One person can be both a monster and a hero. And so ultimately the only conclusion we can draw is that there are no heroes. It is easy to imagine that Cormier named the book “Heroes” as an ironic gesture – the “young boys with apple cheeks” who fought, killed and died in World War II were only there as victims of circumstance: it was just that it was their generation who were the right age to be called up. They didn’t have any intrinsic value of courage or even heroism that meant they would be able to cope with the horrors of war better than anyone else would. To think that they were special, praise them and call them heroes, may comfort us as a society, but actually makes their silent suffering even worse. They were the ones who “fought the good war. And never talk about it” as Cormier puts it. Perhaps it is Cormier speaking when Arthur Rivier tells us, “we weren’t heroes…we were only there…”Last edited by saladays; 26-05-2016 at 21:39.
- Thread Starter
- 27-05-2016 18:27