Chapter 16

Arriving in Albany, Francis meets Nicole in an empty classroom. The pair don’t initially recognise one another. Francis identifies himself. She approaches but remains distant, asking about his wounds. Francis doesn’t want to talk of the war and swiftly segues into how Nicole is doing. 


She claims to be fine, adding that she likes her new school and then she develops to apologising for blaming Francis. She then goes on to say that she went to his house after she said those things but he had already enlisted. Francis then asks her if she has heard of Larry’s suicide and she responds affirmatively. The two then discuss the man and Nicole explains that, away from the Wreck Centre, she has discovered who she truly is. 


Nicole then goes on to ask Francis what he will plan to do, with Francis lying about his intentions to return to schooling and so forth. She then asks him why he has come to see her, with more lies prepared of ‘wondering how she is’ and so forth. Nicole then grows angry and Francis internally knows that he really wishes for Nicole to take him back so that he doesn’t have to kill himself.


Francis then asks her if she told anyone else about the rape. She responds that she had no one to tell as her parents would have been traumatised themselves and the police would never believe her as her scars weren’t visible.


Francis then clicks on to the fact that being there might force Nicole to think back to the harrowing times, even though she tells him that he will always remain in her better memories. The two then look back on the more innocent times together. 


Nicole then inspects the bandages, commenting on his ‘poor face’ and Francis promises that he’ll show her when he is all fixed up, but both know it won’t happen. Francis then realises that Nicole doesn’t love him anymore and his one love has been lost. 


The pair begin to part ways but Nicole grabs Francis’ hands and calls him her ‘ping pong champion’ and her ‘Silver Star hero’. Francis replies by saying he doesn’t know what a hero is. Before they finally leave, Francis asks if he can ever visit her again. He knows he can’t. 


She kisses him, saying that he should ‘have a good life’ and that he should ‘be whatever makes [him] happy’. 


Heroes is a 1998 novel written by Robert Cormier. The novel is centred on the character Francis Cassavant, who has just returned to his childhood home of Frenchtown, Monument, from serving in the Second World War in France and has severe deformities as a result of an incident during the war. The structure of the novel involves the use of flashbacks to Francis’s childhood in Frenchtown and the events in Frenchtown following the war, when Francis returns.

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