Social and historical context

Heroes was first published in 1998. Its author, Robert Cormier, relied heavily on his own life and experiences to write it. He was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, in 1925, so would have been just a couple of years older than Francis during the war. He understood how difficult life could be for young people, so he addressed their problems in his books.

In particular he knew that many of his generation, who were just entering adulthood in World War Two and therefore went off to fight, felt alienated from the rest of society on their return. The people who stayed at home could not understand what they had experienced.

Through Francis’ eyes we see how a person who has been away to war and has even been decorated for heroism, can still be a nobody on his return to normal, everyday life. Cormier gives Francis particular problems to overcome, which illustrate how returning soldiers not only faced an external world which did not understand how they felt, but also shows how they had personal, internal battles, such as physical and mental injuries, which also set them apart.