Chris's Reviews > The Chocolate War

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
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's review
Jan 14, 12

liked it
bookshelves: boy-book, realistic-fiction, ya, lis722

Jerry Renault is a normal Catholic school kid, struggling to get over the death of his mother, make the football team, and survive the normal, terrible pangs of adolescence. He is challenged by a poster hanging in his locker – “Do I date disturb the universe?” He's accosted by the Vigils, a secret society of students inside Trinity School that serves only to torment and upset the balance of the school universe. They assign jobs to younger students, tasks that require them to do things that are immoral, uncomfortable, and counter-authority. Brother Leon, acting headmaster of Jerry’s school, Trinity High in Monument, MA orders an unusually high number of chocolates for the school’s annual sale. To insure success, Leon drafts Archie Costello, leader of the school’s secret society, the Virgils, into backing his sale. Archie has plans of his own, using freshman Jerry to upset Leon’s world. But when Jerry continues to refuse to join the sale, his “no” threatens the power of Leon, Archie and the Virgils.

My Comments:
I thought the ending was somewhat unrealistic. Archie gets Jerry and Janza to fight to the finish by boxing with each other in an arena set up behind the school. He sells lottery tickets to the fight with different fight scenarios (who punches whom and how) printed on the lottery tickets. This is soooo weird. How did he have the time to do this and why would Jerry and Janza agree to this? In the end, or course, Jerry gets beaten to a pulp in front of a roaring crowd chanting “kill him”. Brother Leon, watching secretly from the shadows, does nothing to help. Jerry’s last thoughts are that its not worth questioning the system and doing your own thing. Don’t disturb the universe no matter what the posters say. So, Jerry’s defiance was all in vain. The moral of the story? I guess this is basically a book that showcases bullies and how they work. I can see why this was a controversial book when it was written and even today as it sheds an unsavory light on the Catholic Church, bullies, teachers and throws in a few references to masturbation – all hot topic items.

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