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Elroy, a main character in “On the Rainy River,” is an American civilian, one of the few depicted in the book. He offers shelter, food and friendship to Tim, who desperately runs away from home after receiving his draft notice. Elroy is mostly silent on the topic of whether Tim should cross the border into Canada or not, but consistently offers opportunities for him to do so. O’Brien uses Elroy to show that many Americans were dubious of the war’s necessity and benefit. He also serves as a reminder of what a hero can look like to Tim, a quiet but strong man who allows others to make important choices for themselves.
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