|Hero Boy's House|
|Location||Grand Rapids, Michigan|
|Inhabitants||Hero Boy, Sister Sarah, Hero Boy's Parents|
Role in the Book
At the start of the story, Hero Boy is sleeping quietly in his bed one Christmas Eve, listening for the sound of the bells from Santa's sleigh. He is suddenly awoken by sounds of a steam train pulling up in front of his house. After a Conductor steps outside and looks at his window, he puts on his robe and slippers and goes outside. He is greeted by the Conductor, who tells him the train is called the Polar Express and it is going to the North Pole. In response, Hero Boy puts out his hand and the Conductor pulls him aboard.
Near the end, the Polar Express stops in front of Hero Boy's house again to drop him off. Hero Boy, who had lost the silver bell Santa gave him at the North Pole, walks sadly back home. He waves goodbye from his front door while the Conductor wishes him a Merry Christmas, but has to repeat himself as Hero Boy did not hear the first time.
Hero Boy and Sarah open their presents the next morning. Sarah finds a small present with Hero Boy's name on it, and inside was the silver bell, along with a note informing him that the bell landed on the floor in Santa's sleigh. Hero Boy shakes the bell to create a beautiful sound he and Sarah both enjoy, unlike their parents, who cannot even hear it since they do not believe in Santa.
Role in the Film
Before the Trip
Like in the book, the story starts with Hero Boy sleeping on Christmas Eve listening for Santa's sleigh bells. He wakes up after hearing bells and thinks they might be it, but finds nothing when he looks out his window. He hears the bells again coming from outside his room, so he goes downstairs. He sees no presents under the tree, a plate of uneaten cookies, and a full glass of milk, when a shadow resembling Santa appears. However, it turns out to be his father with Sarah, so he rushes back to his room before being seen. From his room, he watches his parents tuck Sarah into bed. Sarah tells them about some things Hero Boy told her regarding Santa's nonexistence, but they assure her that he was joking and say Santa will come only if she goes to sleep.
Hero Boy goes to his drawer and takes out a picture of himself at Herpolsheimer's, a piece of newspaper, and a magazine. The Herpolsheimer's picture depicts Hero Boy sitting on the lap of a department store Santa and pulling his fake beard. The newspaper has a story about department store Santas going on strike. He then looks up "North Pole" in an encyclopedia before going to bed, which says that the North Pole is "stark, barren, devoid of life".
Hero Boy is woken up again by his room shaking. He hears the sounds of a train and sees flashing lights pass by outside, so he goes outside. Sure enough, a train had stopped right in front of his house. A Conductor steps outside one of the cars and Hero Boy walks up to him. He explains about the train and that Hero Boy has been showing signs of disbelief in Santa recently. Hero Boy turns the trip down, but immediately changes his mind and jumps onto the train just as it leaves.
After the Trip
Right before Hero Boy goes home, he says goodbye to his new friends he made on the trip, Hero Girl and Know-It-All, who feel sorry for him losing the silver bell. Just as the train leaves, Hero Boy waves goodbye to the Conductor from his house, who shouts, "Merry Christmas!" The Hobo, who was on top of the train, waves goodbye too before vanishing one last time. On the way back to his room, he finds that Santa has still not arrived yet.
The next morning, Sarah excitedly wakes up Hero Boy, telling him Santa has been to their house, then goes to wake up her parents. Later, Hero Boy and Sarah go downstairs to open presents. Sarah finds one small present behind the tree, which contains the silver bell he lost and the note. Hero Boy and Sarah enjoy its sound, but when their mother shakes it, she cannot hear it. Their father shakes it too, but he cannot hear a sound either. He thinks the reason why is because it is broken. The two children are later called by their mother and Hero Boy puts the bell on the table before going.
- In both the book and the film, Fritz the Dog appears as a puppet in Hero Boy's house in his room on top of his bedpost.
|Grand Rapids, MI||Grand Rapids, Michigan • Hero Boy's House • Herpolsheimer's • 11344 Edbrooke Avenue|
|The Journey||Flat Top Tunnel • Glacier Gulch • Ice Lake|
|North Pole||North Pole • North Pole Square • Communications Room • Sorting Room|