THE CHOCOLATE WAR BY: Robert Cormier Published: 1974 Coming of age MICHELLE N. 3rd Period
SETTING The setting in a story is the environment or place in which a story or event takes place. Setting can include specific information about time and place or it can just be descriptive. Usually, a story has a main setting that they stick with, where the scene would take place for that certain event. Setting is important to a story because it gives description to the story, it also gives the reader the feeling of the story and the mood of it. Therefore, in the story The Chocolate War the setting of the story is at Trinity Catholic High School, an all boys school, in modern times. I think if the setting of the story changed it wouldn't make sense because the story is about school fun-raising.
CHARACTERS Jerry Renault is fourteen and a freshman at Trinity High School that also plays football for his school. He's 5''9, 145 lb, plays football, he's also shy, lonely, and defiant. He's defiant because he doesn't want to sell the chocolates, he's lonely because not many people like him and his dad doesn't talk to him, he's also shy because he doesn't know how to act around girls. Archie Costello is the leader of The Vigils, he assigns all the punishments and missions. He's a mental bully, he's really tall, he's fit but doesn't exercise. Archie is cruel because he gives out assignments to students that involve them getting hurt, he's controlling because he likes to be in charge, and he's intelligent because he knows how to win arguments and fights.
CONFLICT The conflict of the story is when Jerry refuses to sell the chocolates during the school's fun-raising. The type of conflict is called Man vs. Society because he's refusing the sell the chocolate that comes from the school.
THEME Stand up to what you believe in, no matter what people say or think. • “The world was made up of two kinds of people—those who were victims and those who victimized.’’ pg.106 • “The Goober started to step forward in protest. He has only sold twenty-seven boxes, damn it. He had stopped at twenty-seven to show that he was supporting Jerry, even though nobody knew, not even Jerry. And now the whole thing evaporated and he found himself sinking back into the shadows, as if he could shrivel into invisibility. He didn’t want trouble. He’d had enough trouble and he had held on. But he knew his days at Trinity would be numbered if he walked into that group of jubilant guys and told them to erase the fifty beside his name.” pg. 207 • “Jerry suddenly understood the poster—the solitary man on the beach standing upright and alone and unafraid, poised at the moment of making himself heard and known in the world, the universe.” pg. 196
POINT OF VIEW (POV) The point of view in The Chocolate War is told in first person and third person omniscient. Its told in this type of writing so that readers could tell how one character is feeling, how multiple characters are feeling, and also the author's experiences. This type of writing helps so that you could view another character's perspective. If the author changed the point of view, it wouldn't change the story that much, but I think it would just leave you thinking how other characters are feeling.
SYMBOLISM The only symbolism in this story was the black box that holds the one black and five white marbles, and it decides either Archie does or doesn't do the assignment. I think if the black box wasn't in the story, it wouldn't give that mysterious feeling in which Archie would pick that one black marble which would make him do the assignment that the student was suppose to do.
PLOT SUMMARY Jerry Renault has just lost his mother to cancer and is beginning his freshman year at Trinity school, an all boys Catholic school. The Assistant Head Master of Trinity, Brother Leon, has doubled the selling price of the annual chocolate sale, designed to raise money for the school. He asks Archie Costello, an important member of The Vigils, an underground but very influential student organization, to assist in the sale. Archie is concerned about his grade in Leon’s class, so he agrees. Archie’s job as the "Assigner" for The Vigils is to pick students to perform ridiculous tasks. Because the group is so powerful everyone always does what The Vigils demand. Archie chooses Jerry Renault for an assignment refusing to sell chocolates for ten days. The Vigils have a black box which holds five white marbles and one black marble. Archie must choose a marble after each assignment. If he chooses the black marble, he must perform the task himself. He has never chosen black. After ten days of refusing to sell chocolates Jerry continues to refuse because he does not agree with the sale, which is supposedly willing. His actions inspire other students to do the same, as most students never wanted to sell the chocolates to begin with. Sales are doing very poorly and Leon says that Archie better do something about it because he promised the support of The Vigils. Archie and The Vigils transform the chocolate sale into something popular in the school and soon everyone becomes involved. He makes Emile Janza call Jerry a queer and beat him up. Jerry is hurt very badly after the fight. Archie calls Jerry and tells him there is a way he can get even with Emile and that he should come to the football field that night. When Jerry arrives, the entire school has also come. Archie is selling raffle tickets: each boy gets to write how they want Emile or Jerry to hit the other, the winning shot gets one hundred dollars and fifty boxes of chocolate. Before the fight Obie, another Vigil who hates Archie, decides that Archie must draw two marbles from the box. Archie is mad but agrees. He draws two white marbles and is safe. The fight begins and the participants follow the instructions. Emile and Jerry fight freely. Jerry is badly, badly hurt. The lights go out, but not before Obie sees Brother Leon watching from outside--Archie tipped off Leon, thinking he would enjoy the fight. Archie goes to investigate the lighting situation and finds Brother Jacques has turned out the lights to end the fight. As Jacques yells at Archie, Brother Leon comes to his rescue saying that boys will be boys. Later on, Jerry ends up in the hospital comforted by The Goober ( Jerry's friend).
DO I RECOMMEND THIS STORY? I would recommend this story to someone who likes drama and high school problems. This story I think would be better for older people because of some of the language and scenes. I also recommend this if you like books that include revenge, rivalry, or books that include enemies. But I thought it was a good book overall.