The underlying theme of much of Cormier’s work is, in the words of Patricia J. Campbell, ‘the eternal question … How can we confront the utterly Implacable and still remain human?’1 Cormier approaches this question from many angles, with each of his adolescent protagonists facing difficult but different instances of the seeming ruthlessness of the adult world. In each case, too, his central teen characters find themselves facing the daunting world alone. They are invisible — emotionally, spiritually, and physically — to those more powerful in the world, yet they need to negotiate that world successfully in order to transform from children into adults. Discussing the theme of adolescent invisibility across a range of Cormier’s work, but paying particular attention to four of Cormier’s novels in which invisibility is central — The Chocolate War (1974), Beyond the Chocolate War (1985), Heroes (1998) and Fade (1988) — this essay explores what happens when adolescent characters respond differently to the ‘Implacable’ situations Cormier constructs for them.
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