Heroes Year 11 Tuesday 15th April 2014 11.30-14.00
Contents • Exam details • Context • Plot • Characters • Themes • Exam questions
Exam Details EXTERNAL ASSESSMENT 20% (1 hour) May Unit 2a: Contemporary prose INDIVIDUAL TEXTS IN CONTEXT Contemporary Prose: Heroes (Robert Cormier)
Exam Structure This paper requires study of a contemporary prose text. It will require candidates to answer two questions. • The first question (part (i)) will require close reading of an extract. • The second question will offer a choice of tasks (parts (ii and (iii)) relating to the text as a whole. Candidates are not permitted to take copies of the set texts into the examination.
Context • Heroes was published in 1998. Robert Cormier said that he was inspired to write the book by the 50th anniversary celebrations of the D-Day landings of World War II, and the desire to recognise the heroic acts of ordinary people.
1925: Robert Cormier born 17 January in Leominster, Massachusetts, USA • 1939: Start of the Second World War in Europe • 1941-2: Studies at Leominster High School, then Firchburg State College • 1945: USA enters the war after Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour • 1945: USA drops first atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Second World War ends • 1948: Marries Constance Senay • 1948-78: Begins work as a journalist eventually becoming editor of the Fitchburg-Leominster Sentinel and Enterprise • 1974: Publication of first novel for young adults, The Chocolate War • 1998: Heroes published • 2000: Dies on 2 November
Pearl Harbour • The United States were brought into the Second World War as a result of the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7th, 1941. It was a surprise attack by the Japanese on an important US naval base. Pearl Harbor is on one of the islands of Hawaii, which is part of the USA. Many US battleships and aircraft were destroyed, and over 2,000 people were killed. • The attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. • The attack made public opinion in the USA switch overnight to pro-war patriotism. Unlike in Europe there was no conscription, but many Americans volunteered to go and fight overseas.
The Depression • Many of the flashbacks in the novel refer to The Great Depression which was an effect of the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Many families within this era were poor and underfed. in 1932 President Roosevelt took office and began The New Deal which aimed to solve some of the problems within the country, such as unemployment. One of the schemes was for the government to employ people. This is seen in chapter 5 where Francis talks about people renovating the Wreck Centre who had been hired under a new municipal program.“ The GI Bill • The GI Bill is mentioned in the text in regards to the later plans of the veterans which they discuss in the St Jude Club. Joe LaFontaine speaks about how the government would be willing to pay for his college education and intended to become a teacher. However, this positive outlook is shown to be false as the veterans are later presented as pessimistic people, especially Arthur Rivier, who struggles to cope with not talking about the war.
Plot • Francis Cassavant returns home to Frenchtown after leaving the army due to a very serious face wound. He stays in a room that he rents from Mrs Belander on Third Street. • The novel has three time frames: • in Frenchtown before Francis leaves for the war, • during the war, • and what happens when he returns. • The plot is structured in a way that keeps the audience engaged and adds tension: it shifts from one time frame to another throughout the novel.
Characters • Francis Cassavant - narrator • Nicole Renard – the object of Francis’ affection • Larry LaSalle – Francis’ ‘enemy’ • Marie LaCroix – Nicole’s friend – link between characters • Sister Mathilde and Sister Gertrude • Uncle Louis – Francis’ father • Mr Laurier – Owns the drugstore • Louis Arabelle – lost to Francis in table tennis
Regulars at St. Jude’s Club: • Armand Telliere, • Joe LaFontaine, • George Richelieu, • The Strangler • Francis’ wartime colleagues: • Norman Rocheleau, • Eddie Richards, • Erwin Eisenberg, • Blinky Chambers, • Jack Smith, • Sonny Orlandi, • Spooks Reilly, • Billy O’Brien • Henry Johnson
Themes • Power • Religion • War – Enlisting, during and veterens (the men who have returned from the war) • Appearance and reality - All the characters in the novel have a public face and a private face. • Secrets • Love • Guilt • Revenge • Heroism • Wounds • Growing Up • Time • Isolation