Ambiguism And Symbolism In Heroes By Robert Cormier

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The novel ‘Heroes’ by Robert Cormier features a young war veteran, Francis Cassavant, who returns to his childhood home of Frenchtown from serving in the Second World War and has suffered severe deformities from a fall “on a grenade” which has led the readers to sympathise him and to believe that he is a “poor boy”. Francis has returned to Frenchtown with a specific purpose of killing Larry LaSalle, who is first portrayed as the glamorous and perfect man with a “smile that revealed dazzling movie-star teeth” and “a touch of Fred Astaire in his walk”. Through Larry’s character, Cormier is able to explore the various themes of the novel: masks, power, heroism, and guilt.
Although Larry LaSalle is presented as a “hero” and a “champion”, there is an air of ambiguity about him that suggests that he is wearing a mask, exploring the theme of masks, as it contrasts with his “dazzling movie star” good looks and his “big hero” persona. The ambiguity initially starts in the very beginning when Francis mentions that he is “going to kill” Larry LaSalle; Cormier uses this technique of foreshadowing and first person narration so that the readers are constantly alert to the subtle early warnings that Larry LaSalle is not what he made out to be, that he might be wearing a mask. Before the arrival of Larry LaSalle at the Wreck Centre, Cormier builds up tension and the air of ambiguity by describing the Wreck Centre as a “bad luck place” and “a place of doom”; he uses foreshadowing
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