Evidence and explanation of the language used

The use of pathetic fallacy

How is it used?

...I went to the window and looked at the falling rain outside.

A heatwave gripped Frenchtown, the heat almost visible in the air.

I could not sleep at night. [I] lay on the bed and stared up at the ceiling, glad for the heat that was so relentless, as if it was part of the hell that I had earned.

Why is it used?

Francis does this as soon as he has moved into his rented apartment at Mrs Belander’s house.

This is the weather that seems to settle over Frenchtown after Larry has raped Nicole.

What is its effect?

Francis is back in Frenchtown, but he is very lonely and nobody knows that he is there. He has a deadly mission to fulfil and therefore the rain echoes his negative feelings.

Francis feels oppressed by the immense heat. He is so miserable about not stopping Larry’s attack on Nicole that he feels pinned down by external forces. He is in the grip of something almost supernatural.

As the heatwave continues, Francis’ feeling of despair overtakes him, and he starts to think that he is being punished. More importantly, he believes that he deserves to be punished.

The use of dark humour

How is it used?

One of the few benefits of the war.

There must be a good-looking blind girl somewhere...

Why is it used?

Dr Abrams is telling Francis that there have been huge advances in cosmetic surgery.

Enrico says this to Francis while they are both still in hospital.

What is its effect?

Cormier shows how sometimes a situation is so bad that one can only laugh about it. Here Dr Abrams is implying that because so many men have received dreadful injuries in the war, there have been a lot of people for the doctors to practise upon. Of course, without a war in the first place, there would be no need for cosmetic surgery!

In the same way, Enrico is using dark humour to try to deal with a difficult situation. He and Francis both know that Francis’ facial injuries will make it very hard for him to find a girlfriend, and therefore they joke that a blind girl would not be concerned with how Francis looks.

The use of italics

How is it used?

Did you hear what Lefty’s son did last night, jumped to his death from the steeple of St Jude’s?

Why did it have to turn out like this?

Maybe your sins catching up with you.

Sweet young things.

Why is it used?

This is what Francis thinks as he sits on the church roof contemplating killing himself.

Here Francis is face to face with Larry in Larry’s apartment.

Larry refers to young girls in the plural.

What is its effect?

Cormier uses italics to show what Francis is thinking, especially when he is imagining what other people would say. Here, the use of italics are effective because they take the reader beyond Francis’ own thoughts and make us realise that he is worried about his family’s good name.

Francis is listening and replying to what Larry is saying but his thoughts are allowed to intrude on the conversation, almost creating a third person in the room.

Francis picks up immediately on the fact that Larry has said things, not thing. The use of italics is very effective because the reader can see how Francis is processing this information without letting Larry know. The implication is that Larry has raped other girls in the past.

The use of foreshadowing

How is it used?

...Larry LaSalle manipulated a spotlight...

His slenderness was knife-like now, lethal...

...Larry LaSalle had been a bright Pied Piper for their children...

Why is it used?

Francis is describing how Larry sets up the Wreck Centre for the children’s performance.

Francis describes how Larry’s appearance has changed since he went away to war.

Francis is describing Larry’s heroic return to Frenchtown and his warm welcome from the inhabitants, children and adults alike.

What is its effect?

The word manipulated is effective here. It foreshadows the way that Larry manipulates the children, earning their trust before going on to destroy them.

The words knife and lethal indicate the danger lurking inside Larry. The reader is aware that he has been fighting against the Japanese, but he seems to have brought the danger home to Frenchtown.

This quote shows how even the parents were fooled by Larry LaSalle. The Pied Piper of Hamelin was a mysterious and sinister figure who led all the town’s children away. It is interesting that Cormier makes Francis compare himself with characters from well-known works of literature – indicating that, after all, Francis might indeed become a great writer.