‘I’m sorry’, I said, knowing how pitiful those words must sound to her.
She shook her head, turning away, and I couldn’t afford to let her go.
‘Are you …’ I began to ask but hesitated as she turned her back and looked at me again. What word could I use? Are you hurt? Torn apart?
‘Are you alright?’ I asked.
‘No, I’m not alright,’ she answered, anger flashing in her eyes. ‘I hurt all over’.
I could only stand there mute, as if all my sins had been revealed and there was no forgiveness for them.
Finally, I asked; ‘What can I do?’
‘Poor Francis,’ she said at last. But no pity in her voice. Contempt, maybe, as her eyes swept over me. She flung her hand in the air, a gesture of dismissal. ‘Go away, Francis,’ she said ‘Just go away’.
And she herself went away, pulled away from the bannister, stepped into the hallway, one moment there, the next moment gone.
I waited for her to appear again.
I waited through long empty minutes.
Somewhere a door slammed. Later a dog barked, a car roared by.
I finally went away.
How does Cormier use language to show Francis’ feelings in the extract?
For a B grade:
i. What is the effect of the narrator asking the reader direct questions?
ii. Why is the dialogue between the two so sparse and short?
iii. Francis hears three sounds in the penultimate line – what is he listening for?
For an A grade:
i. How do you suppose Francis is feeling when Nicole turns to look at him ‘again’?
ii. All the emotive language is used to describe how Nicole feels, not Francis. Why is that?
iii. ‘Forgiveness’ is a key theme in the novel. Why is it so important to Francis’ character?