Still in shock, Francis begins a three-day vigil outside of Nicole’s apartment building, hoping that eventually she will emerge onto her veranda. He haunts the street so doggedly that a neighbor boy comes up to him to inquire with serious if Francis is the boogeyman. Meanwhile, rumors abound as to why Larry suddenly left Frenchtown after only a few days on furlough.
By comparing Francis to the boogeyman, a classic childhood monster, the neighbor child reinforces what Francis feels he has become after betraying Nicole. It also reinforces the death of Francis’s childhood, taken by the “monster” of real world violence.
Finally, on the fourth day of Francis’ vigil, Nicole emerges from her apartment to confront Francis. Her voice is noticeably harsh as she blames Francis for allowing her to be raped. Francis stand on the corner, offering platitudes, trying to convey his own sense of sadness and failure until Nicole’s anger shocks him into muteness, as if “all of his sins had been revealed.” Offering no forgiveness, Nicole drives Francis away with a spiteful “Poor Francis.”
Again, when faced with more complicated emotions and problems than his childish crush on Nicole, Francis is unable to function. He uses religious language to convey his guilt, but he seems not to have any hope of salvation. This shows how Francis is unable to see religion as a positive force
Later in the week, Francis sneaks into St Jude Church at night, hiding in the confessional until the janitor leaves for the evening. Alone now, Francis quickly climbs to the top of the steeple and prepares to throw himself towards the ground below. Out of habit, he begins mumbling a prayer, only to stop when he realizes the incongruity of his actions, horrified that he was praying before “committing the worst sin of all: despair.”
By choosing the church as the place for his suicide attempt, Francis show how he views religion as powerless in the face of violence and suffering; for him, the steeple loses all symbolic meaning and becomes simply a tall building. Likewise, the confessional box becomes a place to hide instead of a place to seek forgiveness and guidance.
Now more conscious of his actions, Francis thinks about the shame that his suicide would bring to his family name, and how it would be disrespectful to all the soldiers in the war dying “the deaths of heroes.” Ultimately, Francis descends the steeple, alters his birth certificate, and the very next day enlists in the United States Army.
When he alters his birth certificate, Francis is symbolically reflecting how his childhood has been cut short. He also, in his ideas about soldiers dying “heroes’ deaths,” shows that he, like most people, still believed the glamorized version of the war being spun by the government and the media.