The novel’s protagonist, Francis, was a normal boy in his hometown of Monument. He lived a troubled but decent life and spent most of his youthful moments, those that he can remember, loving Nicole Renard.
However, after witnessing her being sexually abused by his former hero, Larry LaSalle, and being unable to find peace, he forges his birth certificate and enlists in the army in order to honourably commit suicide. He becomes a war hero, however, and pays the price of horrible disfigurement. Plagued with guilt, he sets out on his final mission: murdering Larry.
‘I am not a hero of course, and I turn away in disgust’
‘I don’t know what a hero is anymore, Nicole’
‘It’s hard for me to pray for him and I always hesitate before I can bring myself to say that prayer’
‘As he turns to announce my identity, I touch his shoulder. “Don’t make a fuss Arthur. Let me stay like this”’
‘A kind of bogey man who does terrible things like letting his girl get hurt and attacked’