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In the novel Heroes, Robert Cormier attempts to deconstruct the rationale we all have about what defines the archetypal hero. The novel touches on whether or not an evil deed negates many good deeds and if an action, though not performed out of perceived

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Introduction

How does Robert Cormier make us question what it is to be a hero? Traditional heroism is commonly regarded as being altruistic in nature, the actions of a person aiding another with little regard as to the gains that can be made from it. The inclination towards performing heroic deeds is often an unconscious one; this highlights the complexities that often accompany attempts to define what makes a hero. It is easy to assume that people with certain proclivities and attributes are more prone to heroism than others, but the reality is often comparatively different. The progression of society has aided in broadening the term hero. Former generations can be seen as opposing the modern tendencies to designate idols as false heroes; the propagation of this is overtly visible in the overexposure to people in the public eye, protagonists in mainstream films often stereotyping the contemporary image of what qualities a hero should have. However, the umbrella term encompasses a vast array of debatable designations. In the novel Heroes, Robert Cormier attempts to deconstruct the rationale we all have about what defines the archetypal hero. The novel touches on whether or not an evil deed negates many good deeds and if an action, though not performed out of perceived heroism can still be thought of as heroic. Through the character of Francis Joseph Cassavant we are presented with an intensely realistic story about the subjectivity of heroism and the intricacies of life. The novel is written with the character of Francis Joseph Cassavant as the homodiegetic narrator, he is the protagonist recalling his own story. ...read more.

Middle

concealed throughout the novel, the reader is able to deduce the subtle and implicit messages given by Cormier and form their own opinions. As the character of Larry bonds with the children of the wreck centre, Cormier hints at the distance between him and Nicole. While the majority of the children at the wreck centre seem entirely enamoured with Larry LaSalle, Cormier uses Nicole as a device to hint at the uneasy feeling that pervades their relationship. Francis' observations that Nicole rarely spends time at the wreck centre other than when she is dancing, suggests that there may be an underlying reason for this. It is only when they are dancing that Larry is able to be close to Nicole as she appears to rebuke his attention by removing herself from other social situations involving him. One of the main differences between the characters Larry, Francis and Nicole is the presence of guilt. While Francis did nothing to help Nicole when Larry was attacking her, she too remained passive in the situation, disabled by the actions of a man seen by many as a saving grace. If Francis had not been present when Larry was attacking Nicole the outcome would have been the same, Nicole acknowledges this later in the novel when she apologises to Francis. The irony of the situation is that the one person that should be harbouring guilt, due to their actions, does not appear to be expressing anything akin to that emotion, yet the victims are experiencing a debilitating amount. Francis is unable to relieve himself of the guilt of not helping Nicole and Nicole is left with the feeling of guilt for blaming Francis. ...read more.

Conclusion

Cormier uses Francis and Larry to explore the idea that a war hero is not a single entity; while the people around them may see only the heroism, they are in fact the sum of all of their actions both good and bad. This creates a distinct problem when cultivating the ideal war hero and suggests that Cormier has used the title 'Heroes' in an ironic way, prefacing the themes and attitudes explored within the novel. Francis' prior conversations with Arthur Rivier had always touched on the heroes that the war created, the medals that people won, the actions they took, but later in the novel when Arthur gets drunk he reveals his true feelings about the war and the people that were part of it "We weren't heroes. We were only there". This exposes the inability, which accompanies some of the people involved, when it comes to expressing their actual emotions regarding the war. The reality that not all of the soldiers joined the war effort because of their overwhelming patriotism, but rather out of unavoidable conscription, reflects the negative emotions that are bottled up inside by people such as the character of Arthur Rivier. Cormier does not provide simple resolutions at the end of the novel; there is no certainty in what any of the characters will achieve in the future, or whether they will completely overcome the obstacles created by their past experiences. This type of ending is laced with realism, we are left with the knowledge that the characters must go on with the rest of their lives, but we know that the tragedies that have befallen them are not easily forgotten, as is often the case in real life. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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