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English Literature

Character

Larry LaSalle

  • LaSalle is the glamorous and charismatic man who runs the youth club in Frenchtown. He has a talent for bringing out the best in people, and he makes special favourites of Nicole and Francis.
  • There is a mystery surrounding his departure from New York and his relocation to Frenchtown. Initially that only seems to add to his glamour, but in the end it becomes sinister with his reference to other ‘sweet young things’ which suggests that Nicole was not his first victim.
  • LaSalle joins up the very first morning after war is declared; his actions in the war lead to him being awarded a Silver Star medal, and when he returns home on leave he is given a hero’s welcome by the townspeople and the members of the Wreck Centre. On that leave he manipulates Francis into leaving him alone with Nicole, and he then rapes her.
  • He reappears in Frenchtown at the end of the novel. He has been crippled by the war, so that he can no longer stand. He shows no repentance for raping Nicole, instead asking whether his one sin wipes out all the goodness he has done.
  • In that final conversation, LaSalle does what he has always done in making Francis feel better about himself – he tells him that he fell on the grenade out of instinct to save his fellow soldiers, and that he really is a hero.
  • LaSalle stops Francis from shooting him, but instead shoots himself. Is he trying to redeem himself, or can he simply not face life in his state of health, the fact that there will be ‘no more dancing’ and ‘no more sweet young things’? LaSalle never expresses a sense of guilt over the crimes he committed, so we are left in doubt.

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