I remember what I said to Nicole about not knowing who the real heroes are and I think of my old platoon. Sonny Orlandi, Spooks Reilly and Blinky Chambers, Eddie Richards and his diarrhoea. Erwin Eisenberg, Henry Johnson, hit by shrapnel. And those who died, Jack Smith and Billy O’Brien, and all the others. I think of Enrico, minus his legs, his arm. I think of Arthur Rivier, drunk and mournful that night in the alley. We were only there. Scared kids, not born to fight and kill. Who were not only there but who stayed, did not run away, fought the good war. And never talked about it. And didn’t receive a Silver Star. But heroes, anyway. The real heroes.
Maybe if I’m going to write as Nicole hopes I will, I should write about them.
Maybe I should buy a typewriter and get started.
Maybe I should try to find Dr Abrams’ telephone number in Kansas City.
Maybe I should track down Enrico, check out those hospitals he told me about.
I should do all those things.
I think of Nicole.
I think of the gun inside my duffel bag at my feet.
I pick up the duffel bag and sling it over my shoulder. The weight is nice and comfortable on my back as I cross the lobby, heading for the exit and the next train to leave the station.
Comment on how language is used to give impact to the ending of the book.
For a B grade:
i. Francis lists his army comrades – who has he been writing about in the rest of the book? How does this mark a change in his thinking?
ii. There are four ‘maybes’ – what do these suggest?
iii. What does ‘the next train’ symbolise?
For an A grade:
i. The reader hopes that the protagonist will have solved his issues by the end of the story – what phrases suggests that Francis has forgiven himself?
ii. Does he still feel alone?
iii. ‘I think of the gun inside my duffel bag’ leads the reader to think how the book could have ended differently – Francis makes a final choice here – what is it?