Mineola Memorial Library discussion

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message 1: by Suzanne (last edited Mar 22, 2012 11:14PM) (new)

Suzanne Moore (SuzeQ) | 12 comments Mod
The Chocolate War by, Robert Cormier

This story, written in 1974 from the viewpoint of teenage boys, takes place in a corrupt, private, Catholic prep school. Despite its age, the novel is still relevant with today's bullying epidemic, examining the danger of mob mentality. Brother Leon, the headmaster, expects his students to sell twice as much chocolate for this year's annual school fundraiser and abuses his authority as a teacher by intimidating his students. Archie, referred to as The Assigner, for a gang known as The Vigils, brainwashes freshmen recruits by initiating them with various cruel and humiliating assignments. The Vigils are basically a group of bullies and what the story boils down to is the need to belong. The new boys wanting recognition and notoriety are willing to do anything to gain acceptance by the gang. The freshmen are expected by The Vigils to sell the chocolates and give them credit. Then Jerry Renault, new kid in town, stands up to the crowd. Refusing to comply with what he feels pressured into. His character holds the message of the story by encouraging readers to stand up for what you believe in rather than following the crowd. This inevitably leads to conflict that keeps readers turning pages in anticipation of the outcome. Although the chocolates did get sold, in the end, I think they were bought and paid for with the price of individuality. Adults might have concerns about some of the violent content and language but, as the author says, “kids can absorb my kind of book because they know this kind of thing happens in life.” One might compare “The Chocolate War” with William Golding's novel “Lord of the Flies.”

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