To what extent are the characters in "Heroes" by Robert Cormier true heroes and heroic?

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To what extent are the characters in Heroes true heroes and heroic?
By Elli Hetherington

In the novel Heroes by Robert Cormier, the author passes the idea that there is no such thing as a real hero because everyone has a weakness. Cormier uses his main characters of Larry LaSalle and Francis Cassavant to convey this message. Francis Cassavant is portrayed as having both heroic and cowardly personality traits, this forces the reader to consider what makes a real hero.

Francis Joseph Cassavant returned to Frenchtown at the tender age of eighteen after enlisting himself in World War 2 three years before. He wears a bandage, a scarf and a baseball cap to hide what is left of his face from the world, keeping himself as anonymous as he could.
During the war Francis leapt upon a live grenade and in doing so saved the rest of his platoon. This caused Francis to earn a silver star for heroism and for his face to be blown away in the explosion. This gives the impression that Francis is a hero above all others by the fact that even at such a young age he did what he did to save other people. All the people who knew him at the time seem to think that he was a hero too. It is after his return to Frenchtown that the real reason of Francis going to war becomes clear. After an incident with another supposed hero and Francis' girlfriend of the time (Nicole Renard) Francis contemplates suicide by throwing himself from the church's steeple but changes his mind because of his strict catholic religion and the thought of his parents response to him committing the biggest sin believed in their faith. Instead he forges a birth certificate and enlists to join the army hoping that during combat he will die a heroes death like all the ones he had heard of previously. Cowardice made him the 'hero' everyone thought he was and he admits that he jumped onto the grenade seeing it as a way to end his life. But something went wrong and only his face was blown up-he survived. However, it could well be the case that there is a deeper reason as to Francis‘ injury. Perhaps, for instance, it is fate: when Francis tries to commit what his religion sees as an act of cowardice he not only survives but is punished by God for doing so by being gravely wounded. Another reason that Francis is not a hero is his new mission he planned for himself upon leaving the hospital he had been in: he planned to kill Larry LaSalle for what he did but the good side of Francis comes out and he leaves Larry alive.

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Larry LaSalle is seen as a hero throughout the novel by most of the other characters for what he did for the children of Frenchtown in the 'Wreck Centre'.  He brings out the best in them and they adore him. Even at the end he is still making Francis feel better about himself, and prevents him from becoming a murderer. At the Wreck Centre LaSalle tries to bring out the best of all the children that attend. He coaches Nicole Renard to become a dancer and helps Francis become the table tennis champion by letting him beat him in the ...

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