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Heroes. How does Cormier present the character of Larry LaSalle?

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Introduction

The character of Larry LaSalle is vital to the plot and themes of Heroes: Cormier presents him in opposition to Francis and uses him to explore the central issues of the novel. From the very first chapter of the novel it is clear that LaSalle is going to be a very important character, as Francis tells us that he is ?the man I am going to kill.? Initially there is some ambiguity about this: Francis?s description of his own horrific injuries combined with this statement are designed to suggest he is a monster, and therefore might give sympathy to LaSalle. However, even by this stage the reader is empathising with Francis, and therefore suspects that LaSalle may not be the victim. This ambiguity about LaSalle?s character is continued through the book, reflecting the theme of concealment and revelation. Despite LaSalle?s ?dazzling movie-star? good looks when he arrives in the town, there is a sense of uneasy mystery about him, as to why he turned his back on show-business. Cormier uses this technique of foreshadowing and undermining throughout the novel, reflecting the uncertainty of many of the themes and characters of the book. ...read more.

Middle

The heroic exterior is undermined throughout by foreshadowing and our eventual knowledge of what LaSalle has done, which contributes to the major theme of what a hero really is. Cormier contrasts the hideous exterior of the veteran Francis, who has our sympathy, with the memory of the beautiful LaSalle. Ironically, after Francis has created the picture of the beautiful but dangerous monster, when he finally confronts him, LaSalle is presented as a shell of his former self. He is ?fragile? and his eyes are ?sunk into the sockets?. He is not immune from the effects of war which have been shown to have such an impact on Francis and the other war veterans elsewhere in the book. This image is reinforced a few pages later when Cormier reveals that LaSalle?s legs are ?gone?. Both the reader and the narrator are taken aback slightly by this turn of events. The bathos of this image undermines the climax to which the entire novel has apparently been building, the confrontation between Francis and his antagonist; it becomes clear later that it is fact Nicole whom he needs to see in order to resolve his problems. ...read more.

Conclusion

Cormier uses LaSalle to show that people need to see heroism, even if on closer examination that heroism is flawed. For example LaSalle says faking the table tennis result to let Francis win is a good thing for the other kids. He also has LaSalle ask the question of whether his heroic acts are devalued by his crimes. LaSalle does not feel any guilt over his actions. This limits our empathy with LaSalle. Cormier is asking how far any good he did achieve, in boosting the children?s confidence, and in giving the town a war hero, was flawed by this. At the end of the book Francis thinks about the ordinary soldiers in his own platoon. Boys who ?didn?t receive a Silver Star. But heroes anyway. The real heroes.? Cormier is suggesting that these heroes need to be remembered, not only the famous war heroes. Therefore, LaSalle is presented as being central to the themes of concealment and revelation, and of what makes a hero; he is never allowed to become a complete monster, but is a much more subtle character, which means the reader must think much more carefully about the moral questions which Heroes raises. ...read more.

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