Heroes

Francis Cassavant Character Analysis

Francis is the novel’s protagonist and narrator. A quiet, unassuming boy, Francis is an average kid in his hometown of Monument—neither popular nor an outcast. While he is not particularly athletic, Francis is an avid reader, and he dreams of one day being a hero like the characters in his favorite books. Francis’s greatest trauma was witnessing the rape of his childhood sweetheart Nicole Renard by his former hero Larry LaSalle, and knowing that he did nothing to stop it. This one moment of violence shatters the innocence of Francis’ idyllic childhood, ultimately propelling him to enlist in the army as a way to discreetly and honorably commit suicide, an attempt that not only fails, but also earns him the title of “hero.” In a last ditch effort to evade the misery of his adult life, Francis sets out to murder Larry, a quest that ultimately brings Francis face-to-face with the inescapable complexity of adult problems, forcing him to accept his adulthood and move on with his life.

Francis Cassavant Quotes in Heroes

The Heroes quotes below are all either spoken by Francis Cassavant or refer to Francis Cassavant. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Heroes published in 2009.
Chapter 1 Quotes

My name is Francis Joseph Cassavant and I have just returned to Frenchtown in Monument and the war is over and I have no face.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker)
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:
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So I offer up an Our Father and Hail Mary and Glory Be for Larry LaSalle. Then I am filled with guilt and shame, knowing that I have just prayed for the man I am going to kill.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Larry LaSalle
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 2 Quotes

I knelt there like a knight at her feet, her sword having touched my shoulder. I silently pledged her my love and loyalty forever.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Nicole Renard
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:
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Why hadn't I answered her? Did she now think I was stupid, unable to start a conversation? Had she merely been teasing me? Or had she been really afraid that I might fall off the banister? The questions left me dazed with wonder. I never knew that love could be so agonizing. Finally, the big question: Had Marie told Nicole that I liked her?

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Nicole Renard, Marie LaCroix
Page Number: 18
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Chapter 3 Quotes

I have places to visit now that I have returned and one of them is Sixth Street and the gray three-decker where Nicole Renard lived with her mother and father on the second floor at number 212. I know she doesn't live there anymore and I have nothing to gain by going there but it's inevitable that I look at her house again.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Nicole Renard
Page Number: 21
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Here is the point where my life becomes a lie. "Raymond" I tell her, using the name of my dead brother. "Beaumont," I add. My mother's name before she married my father.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Mrs. Belander, Raymond Cassavant
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
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In the alley that day I encountered the German soldiers, all right, but my bursts of gunfire killed the soldiers quickly, no exploding head no body cut in two, although one of them did cry Mama as he fell. When I looked down at them…I saw how young they were, boys with apple cheeks, too young to shave. Like me.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker)
Page Number: 29-30
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Chapter 5 Quotes

The Wreck Center became my headquarters in the seventh and eighth grade, a place away from the sidewalks and empty lots of Frenchtown. I had never been a hero in such places, too short and un-coordinated for baseball and too timid to join the gangs that hung around the street corners.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Wreck Center
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
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Dazzled by his talent and his energy, most of us didn't dwell on the rumors. In fact, the air of mystery that surrounded him added to his glamour. He was our champion, and we were happy to be in his presence.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Larry LaSalle
Related Symbols: The Wreck Center
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 6 Quotes

"There are lots of medals," the big bartender croaks, "for outstanding service, but only the Silver Star is for heroism." His old voice is suddenly formal and dignified. "For gallantry."

Related Characters: The Strangler (speaker), Francis Cassavant, Larry LaSalle, Arthur Rivier
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 7 Quotes

Never before had I known such a sense of destiny. I felt invincible, impossible to defeat, the ball always under my control.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker)
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:
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Like a dream coming true, Nicole took the trophy from Larry LaSalle and handed it to me, the radiance of her face mirroring my own. The crowd grew silent as I pressed the trophy to my chest, my eyes becoming moist

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Larry LaSalle, Nicole Renard
Page Number: 64-65
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 8 Quotes

"Heroes," he scoffs, his voice sharp and bitter, all signs of drunkenness gone. "We weren't heroes. The Strangler and his scrapbook. No heroes in that scrapbook, Francis. Only us, the boys of Frenchtown. Scared and homesick and cramps in the stomach and vomit. Nothing glamorous like the write-ups in the papers or the newsreels. We weren't heroes. We were only there…

Related Characters: Arthur Rivier (speaker), Francis Cassavant, The Strangler
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 9 Quotes

Larry LaSalle stood before us that afternoon at the Wreck Center, the movie star smile gone, replaced by grim-faced determination. "We can't let the Japs get away with this," he said, anger that we had never seen before flashing in his eyes. As we were about to cheer his announcement, he held up his hand. "None of that, kids, I'm just doing what millions of others are doing."

Related Characters: Larry LaSalle (speaker), Francis Cassavant, Nicole Renard, Joey LeBlanc
Page Number: 74
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Taking a deep breath, I said: "Would you like to go to the movies sometime?" The earth paused in its orbit.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Nicole Renard
Page Number: 76
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The Movietone News brought reminders of the war that was raging around the globe, as the grim narrator spoke of places that had been unknown to us a few months ago—Bataan in the Pacific, Tobruk in Africa. We cheered our fighting forces and booed and hissed when Hitler came on the screen, his arm always raised in that hated salute.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker)
Page Number: 77
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Chapter 11 Quotes

We always did what Larry LaSalle told us to do. Always carried out his slightest wish…I saw Larry raising his eyebrows at me, the way he looked at me when I made a stupid move at table tennis.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Larry LaSalle, Nicole Renard
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 12 Quotes

"Are you all right?" I asked. “No, I'm not all right" she answered anger flashing in her eyes. "I hurt. I hurt all over." I could only stand there mute, as if all my sins had been revealed and there was no forgiveness for them.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Nicole Renard (speaker)
Page Number: 101-102
Explanation and Analysis:
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I could not die that way. Soldiers were dying with honor on battlefields all over the world. Noble deaths. The deaths of heroes. How could I die by leaping from a steeple? The next afternoon I boarded the bus to Fort Delta, in my pocket the birth certificate I had altered to change my age, and became a soldier in the United States Army.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker)
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 14 Quotes

I am calm. My heartbeat is normal. What's one more death after the others in the villages and fields of France? The innocent faces of the two young Germans appear in my mind. But Larry LaSalle is not innocent.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Larry LaSalle
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:
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I had always wanted to be a hero like Larry LaSalle and all the others, but have been a fake all along. And now I am tired of the deception and have to rid myself of the fakery. I look away from him, out the window at the sun-splashed street. "I'm not a hero” I tell him.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Larry LaSalle
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
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Everybody sins, Francis. The terrible thing is that we love our sins. We love the thing that makes us evil

Related Characters: Larry LaSalle (speaker), Francis Cassavant, Nicole Renard
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:
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Downstairs, at last, after what seems like a long, long time, I pause at the outside door. The sound of a pistol shot cracks the air. My hand is on the doorknob. The sound from this distance is almost like that of a Ping-Pong ball striking the table.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Larry LaSalle
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 16 Quotes

My good Francis. My table tennis champion. My Silver Star hero." Hero. The word hangs in the air. "I don't know what a hero is anymore, Nicole." I think of Larry LaSalle and his Silver Star. And my own Silver Star, for an act of cowardice. "Write about it, Francis. Maybe you can find the answer that way."

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Nicole Renard (speaker)
Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 17 Quotes

I remember what I said to Nicole about not knowing who the real heroes are and I think of my old platoon…I think of Enrico, minus his legs, his arm. I think of Arthur Rivier, drunk and mournful that night in the alley. We were only there. Scared kids, not born to fight and kill. Who were not only there but who stayed, did not run away, fought the good war. And never talk about it. And didn't receive a Silver Star. But heroes, anyway. The real heroes.

Related Characters: Francis Cassavant (speaker), Arthur Rivier, Enrico Rucelli
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:
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Francis Cassavant Character Timeline in Heroes

The timeline below shows where the character Francis Cassavant appears in Heroes. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Francis begins his narration by announcing that, since the war has finally ended, he has returned... (full context)
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After explaining his wounds, Francis begins to detail the ways in which he hides them. Namely, he never goes out... (full context)
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
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Using some of the back pay he received during his time in the war hospital, Francis anonymously rents a room in Mrs. Belander’s tenement house. Even though he used to run... (full context)
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Anonymous still, Francis returns to St. Jude Church where he was once an altar boy and offers up... (full context)
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Back in his rented room, Francis tends to his wounds while reminiscing about his time in the war hospital. First he... (full context)
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
Flawed Heroes Theme Icon
Francis ignored Enrico’s joke while claiming that he wasn’t a hero and admitting that he would... (full context)
Chapter 2
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
The narrative flashes back to the beginning of Francis’s relationship with Nicole Renard, starting on the very first day he lays eyes on her... (full context)
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
After a brief exchange of glances, Francis decides that Nicole is the most beautiful girl he has ever seen, silently pledging her... (full context)
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Finally, Nicole passes Francis in the hallway and gently teases him, leaving Francis speechless in her wake. He agonizes... (full context)
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Later on in the summer, Francis and his friend Joey LeBlanc are walking through Frenchtown when they spot Nicole at a... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Back in the present, Francis stalks the streets of Frenchtown, returning to Nicole’s apartment building to confirm for himself that... (full context)
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Upon seeing that Nicole is, in fact, gone, Francis has another flashback to the war, this time to a night he spent reminiscing with... (full context)
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After being shooed away by the new occupants of Nicole’s old apartment, Francis returns to his boardinghouse where Mrs. Belander offers him soup and finally asks for his... (full context)
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As night falls, Francis begins his nightly ritual as he prepares to fall asleep. He begins by reciting the... (full context)
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
Heading deeper into his flashback, Francis sees himself in a small alley when two German soldiers round the corner; instinctively Francis... (full context)
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Upon waking, Francis realizes that he was reliving his flashback in his dream. While he admits that the... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Against his better judgment, Francis sets out to visit the Wreck Center. However, he is intercepted on his way by... (full context)
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In the club, Francis silently sips his beer while the other veterans discuss their plans now that the war... (full context)
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
As the men return to the discussion of their future careers, Francis slips out of the bar unnoticed and heads towards the Wreck Center, his scarf and... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Standing before the boarded-up Wreck Center, Francis begins to recall its bloody past as Grenier’s Hall. A place for wedding receptions and... (full context)
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Moving forward in time, Francis then begins to reminisce about the building’s transformation into the Frenchtown Rec. Center—a transformation that... (full context)
Flawed Heroes Theme Icon
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...and crafts, and calisthenics. Looking for a place in which he could finally fit in, Francis joined the Wreck Center crew, albeit timidly at first. As the cult of personality around... (full context)
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
...Larry’s star pupil, she easily stood out from the rest of the dancers, further captivating Francis’ attention. One day, she said hello to Francis and he was able to muster enough... (full context)
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As Francis recalls being angry with Joey LeBlanc for his constant predictions that doom and suffering would... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
Flawed Heroes Theme Icon
It has now been a month since Francis returned to Frenchtown; pleasantly, he notes how the townspeople, familiar with his presence, now smile... (full context)
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
Hoping to hear information about Larry, Francis continues to frequent the St. Jude Club. Although he never joins in on the conversations... (full context)
Flawed Heroes Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
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Spurred to emotion by Francis’ sudden question, Arthur leads a toast to “the patron saint of the Wreck Center.” Then,... (full context)
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
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In the midst of the toasts and reminiscing, Arthur leans in close to Francis and tells him that he recognizes Francis’s voice. Francis admits, finally, to his real identity,... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
Francis begins another childhood flashback with the day that Larry saw him dejectedly sitting on the... (full context)
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
Flawed Heroes Theme Icon
Wanting to help Francis, Larry convinces him to return to the Wreck Center the following day to start lessons... (full context)
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At the end of the first lesson, Larry convinces Francis to stick with Ping-Pong, giving him a new sense of purpose at the Wreck Center.... (full context)
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While Francis is in the Wreck Center practicing Ping-Pong, he begins to notice how Nicole is not... (full context)
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
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On the day of the tournament, Nicole approaches Francis who finally musters enough courage to tell her he loves to watch her dance. She... (full context)
Flawed Heroes Theme Icon
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As Francis just begins to savor his moment of victory, Joey LeBlanc calls out for Francis to... (full context)
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
Flawed Heroes Theme Icon
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Halfway through the game, Francis realizes that Larry had been letting him win. At the last point, Francis grows hesitant,... (full context)
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Flawed Heroes Theme Icon
In the midst of the celebration, Nicole approaches Francis and calls him “my champion,” reminding him that she wants him to attend a party... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Back in the present, Francis is restlessly wandering the streets at night when he encounters Arthur Rivier drunk and slumped... (full context)
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
Flawed Heroes Theme Icon
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Helping him to his feet, Francis asks Arthur what he means, and Arthur enters a brief moment of lucidity. Confiding in... (full context)
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Before the other veterans reach Francis and Arthur, Arthur has fallen asleep. Whispering “poor Arthur,” the veterans pick up their drunken... (full context)
Chapter 9
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
Flawed Heroes Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Francis picks up his childhood flashback with the day Larry announces his decision to enlist in... (full context)
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Starting with the closing of the Wreck Center in Larry’s absence, Francis begins to recount some of the major changes to Frenchtown during the war: the kids... (full context)
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Luckily for Francis, Nicole begins to frequent the drugstore, giving him more opportunities to speak to his crush.... (full context)
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At the cinema, Francis, Nicole, and the rest of Frenchtown also began to see the “war reels:” short vignettes... (full context)
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One day as Francis and Nicole walk home after their date, they pass the now shuttered Wreck Center, remembering... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Francis enters into a rare flashback to the time after his injury but before his return... (full context)
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Back in Frenchtown, Francis stands in front of a mirror to assess his wounds, and while he admits that... (full context)
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Ultimately, Francis reminds himself that his wounds healing or not healing is a trivial matter since he... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Francis resumes his childhood flashback with his most painful memory of all: Larry’s return from the... (full context)
Flawed Heroes Theme Icon
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...Larry still has the touch of movie star grace that he had before the war, Francis notes how there was a certain lethality to Larry now, a sharpness around him that... (full context)
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...floods into their old haunt, playing Ping-Pong and dancing late into the night, until only Francis, Nicole, and Larry remain. (full context)
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
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...in the Dark:” the song the two had danced to often before the war. Taking Francis aside, then, Larry says Francis must be tired and that maybe he should head home.... (full context)
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As Francis draws near the exit, Larry flicks off the lights, and Francis suddenly decides he cannot... (full context)
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Bursting through the darkness, a battered Nicole goes to leave the Wreck Center, spotting Francis as he steps out from the shadows towards her. Nicole, however, waves him off, her... (full context)
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Larry, unaware that Francis had witnessed his horrendous crime, leaves the Wreck Center, casually whistling “Dancing in the Dark.”... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Still in shock, Francis begins a three-day vigil outside of Nicole’s apartment building, hoping that eventually she will emerge... (full context)
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Finally, on the fourth day of Francis’ vigil, Nicole emerges from her apartment to confront Francis. Her voice is noticeably harsh as... (full context)
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Later in the week, Francis sneaks into St Jude Church at night, hiding in the confessional until the janitor leaves... (full context)
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
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Now more conscious of his actions, Francis thinks about the shame that his suicide would bring to his family name, and how... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Back in the present, Francis learns through eavesdropping on his landlady and her neighbor that Larry has finally returned to... (full context)
Chapter 14
The Simplicity of Childhood Theme Icon
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Standing in front of Larry’s apartment building with his gun in his pocket, Francis readies himself to murder his former hero. He reminds himself one last time that Larry... (full context)
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Francis knocks on Larry’s door, entering as Larry calls out from within. Larry, sitting in a... (full context)
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Francis, however, remains standing as Larry begins to reminisce about their Wreck Center glory days, his... (full context)
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Quickly though, Larry snaps back to reality, rubbing his stiff legs and remarking to Francis that not all wounds are visible. Further explaining, Larry mentions that the doctors claim he... (full context)
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Moving the conversation back to Francis, Larry brings up Francis’ own Silver Star, remarking that he went into the war a... (full context)
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Confused, Larry asks Francis why he had wanted to die so badly. Realizing in that instance that Larry really... (full context)
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Larry, ever the smooth talker, begins to comfort Francis, telling him that there was nothing he could have done to stop it, since after... (full context)
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Tired of the dramatics, Larry asks Francis why he really came to visit. In response, Francis draws his pistol, and with a... (full context)
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Unfazed by the gun in his face, Larry tells Francis that he couldn’t resist “sweet young things,” that “everybody sins” yet they love their sins... (full context)
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Once again, Francis simply replies that Larry should be asking Nicole, not him. As he stares down the... (full context)
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Still unfazed by the gun aimed at him, Larry becomes dismissive, explaining to Francis how he has all but lost his legs to the war: no more dancing, no... (full context)
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Impatient at last, Francis tells Larry to say his prayers and takes aim at his heart. Larry, however, cries... (full context)
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With an air of seriousness, Larry begins to explain to Francis that he too has a pistol, one that he often takes out of its box... (full context)
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Begging now, Larry pleads with Francis to put down his gun, saying that he wasn’t a cold-blooded murderer at heart. Finally,... (full context)
Chapter 15
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His final mission now complete, Francis visits the nuns in their convent, asking for Sister Mathilde, his and Nicole’s former 7th... (full context)
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When Sister Mathilde arrives, Francis respectfully removes his Red Sox cap and introduces himself by his real name. After pleasantries,... (full context)
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Thankfully for Francis, Sister Mathilde explains that Nicole and her family simply moved back to Albany. When pressed,... (full context)
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Thinking that a familiar face might be a nice surprise for Nicole, Sister Mathilde gives Francis her new address in Albany. Before Francis leaves, Sister Mathilde gently tells him she hopes... (full context)
Chapter 16
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In Albany, Francis finally comes face to face with Nicole in an empty classroom at her new parochial... (full context)
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Hesitantly, Nicole approaches Francis, maintaining a cordial distance. After she expresses concern over Francis’ wounds, he tries to reassure... (full context)
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...her new school where the nuns are less strict. After a pause, she apologizes to Francis for blaming him for her rape. She explains how she had gone to his house... (full context)
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Joining Nicole to look out the classroom window at a tennis match, Francis tentatively asks if Nicole had heard the news of Larry’s suicide. Nicole replies that yes,... (full context)
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Turning the tables, Nicole then asks Francis what his plans are now that the war is over. Again, ready with a practiced... (full context)
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A back and forth ensues, with Nicole insisting she is “all right” and Francis pushing back, asking her if she had ever spoken to anyone about her trauma. This... (full context)
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Sadly, Francis realizes that his presence probably brings back bad memories for Nicole, though she assures him... (full context)
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An awkward silence falls over the room again, broken when Nicole moves to touch Francis’ bandages, murmuring “your poor face.” Pulling away, Francis protests, saying he does not want Nicole... (full context)
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Trying to give Nicole one last gift, Francis stands to leave, and Nicole quickly adds that must return to class soon. As they... (full context)
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As Nicole turns to leave at last, Francis asks if he can visit her again, hating himself for asking a question to which... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Back in the Albany train station, Francis looks around him, taking in the crowd of civilians, soldiers, and veterans. Remembering his words... (full context)
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Francis realizes, finally, that to him, those were the true heroes: the scared kids who stayed... (full context)
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Thinking about his future for the first time, Francis runs through the list of things he could and should do. He muses, maybe he... (full context)
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One last time, Francis thinks of Nicole, and then of the gun in his duffel bag. Slinging his bag... (full context)