The Chocolate War By Robert Cormier

About The Author:

Robert Cormier

Robert Cormier was born on January 17, 1925 in Leominster, Massachusetts, the second of eight children. He was an author, columnist, and reporter. When he was young he attended St. Celia's Parochial Grammar School. He began writing when he was in first grade, but didn't have the desire to write for a living until he was in sixth grade. After finishing grammar school he moved on to Leominster High School and graduated as president of his class and was then accepted to Fitchburg State College. One of his professors was so impressed with a story he had written that they sumitted it to a local magazine, The Sign. That was his first published work. After college he started to write commercials for local radio stations. Soon after, he switched to writing for newspapers. For twenty-three years he was the editor and writer for the Fitchburg Sentinel. Throughout those twenty-three years he won three major journalism awards. Cormier then began to write short stories for McCall's and the Saturday Evening Post. In 1948 he got married. They had four wonderful children. Cormier wrote his most successful young adult novel, The Chocolate War, in 1974. He passed away on November 2, 2000. Robert Cormier has also written many other books such as:
- The Rag and Bone Shop images14.jpg - I Am The Cheese cheese.jpg
- After The First Death 0440208351.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg - In The Middle Of The Night n47715.jpg

Plot Synopsis:

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier is a wonderful novel that shows how one simple school fund raiser can change the life of a young boy. This book follows Jerry, who had lost his mother, through his freshmen year that will never be forgotten. It starts out with Jerry Renault enduring a football tryout at Trinity High School. He had always wanted to be on the Trinity football team and this year he was going to make it happen. "Show up tomorrow at three o'clock or you're through before you start" (Cormier 4).

While Jerry is enduring a football tryout The Vigils start to make their famous list. They are a group of kids led by Archie Costello. Every year Archie makes a list of kids that he wants to assign tasks to throughout the school year. If the student fails to accomplish the task they will have to endure the worst school year of their life, so no one has ever gone against Archie. He is scared by all students and even teachers.

The first assignment Archie gives is to a kid named Goober. "Everything in Brother Eugene's room is held together by screws. The chairs, the desks, the blackboards. Now, with your little screwdriver--mybe you'd better bring along various and assorted sizes, just in case--you start to loosen. Don't take out the screws. Just loosen them until they reach that point where they're almost ready to fall out, everything hanging there by a thread" (Cormier 35). Goober had to loosen everything until the screws were barely in the hole, so that if anyone sat or leaned on it everything would fall apart. After giving the assignment Archie had to pick a marble from the legendary black box. The box contained six marble, five white and one black. If he draws a black marble that means he has to perform the task himself and if he draws a white marble it means the assignment is left how it is and the person assigned to the task has to go and perform it. Archie has never drawn a black marble in three years and this time was no different. He had drawn a white marble which meant Goober had to do the assignment.

Later that day, Archie and Brother Leon, one of the school's teacher, have a conversation about the annual chocolate sale. Brother Leon decides he will have each student sell fifty boxes which is twice as many as last year. Brother Leon asks for Archie and The Vigils to help out and stand behind the sale. Archie is thrilled that a teacher is asking for his help. "The Vigils will help" (Cormier 29). The chocolate sell would begin the next day.

ist2_5306474-chocolate-bar.jpgThe next day everyone is filing into Brother Eugene's classroom. Students begin to lean and sit on the desks. They begin to wobble and finally desks start to collapse and the whole room is falling apart. Brother Eugene is so devastated by his room that he starts to cry and quites his job. Assignment one has been completed.

Archie's next task had to do with Jerry Renault. He summons Jerry into The Vigil's office and tells him that he must refuse to sell the chocolates for ten days.

When Brother Leon calls roll and asks the students if they are selling chocolate or not, every kid says yes for it is the tradition at Trinity, except for Jerry. He replies with a no and everyone is shocked. Assignment two has been completed. Cormier then expand on what everyone else thinks about the chocolate sale and how it is affecting their lives. Others agree that they are tired of selling chocolate, but feels like it is a must to show school spirit.

It has been ten days and today is the day Jerry is suppose to accept the chocolates. Brother Leon is once again calling roll. "It would be so easy, really, to yell 'Yes.' To say, 'Give me the chocolates to sell, Brother Leon.' So easy to be like the others, not to have to confront those terrible eyes every morning. Brother Leon finally looked up. The tempo of the roll call had broken. 'No,' Jerry said" (Cormier 130). Cormier explains that Jerry is refusing to sell chocolates to stand up to Brother Leon. Leon has been torturing students ever since the year has started and Jerry felt like he must stand up to him by saying no to the chocolate sale.

Others have realized that they to should stand up to Brother Leon and stop their sale in chocolate. Sales start to drop increasing fast and Brother Leon become angered with Jerry and his influence on the other students. Leon quickly confronts Archie about the drops in sales and forces him to do something about it. Brother Leon asks Archie why he is not using the influence of The Vigils to stand behind the sales and threatens him by saying "If the sale goes down the drain, you and The Vigils also go down the drain" (Cormier 165).

Jerry is once again summoned by The Vigils and of course Jerry attends. Archie assigns a new task, which requires him to accept and participate in the chocolate sale. In class the next day when Jerry is suppose to accept the chocolates he ponders upon it for a minute and again replies with a no. Not only has Jerry refused to sell chocolates, the thing that has made Trinity famous for, but has gone against what Archie and The Vigils had assigned him to do. Archie is now angered and wants to make his life miserable. Assignment three, fail.

To find out what happens with Jerry and all the chocolate they must sell read the book! smiley-face.jpg

The Chocolate War Movie Trailer


What worked? thumbs_up.jpg
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier had many elements put together to make this book work. One thing that stands out is its use of descriptions. The way Cormier describes every details makes the reader feel like they are right there at each scene. "On the third play, he was hit simultaneously by three of them: one, his knees; another, his stomach; a third, his head- the helmet no protection at all. HIs body seemed to telescope into itself but all the parts didn't fit, and he was stunned by the knowledge that pain isn't just one thing- it is cunning and various, sharp here and sickening there, burning here and clawing there" (Cormier 2). This scene is when Jerry is enduring is football tryout. Without actually being there the reader can sense and feel every move and every pain Jerry is feeling just by Cormier's get use of discription. That is how The Chocolate War draws everyone in and keeps the reader wanting to read more.

Also, what worked is the way the author uses a situation that can happen to any teen. He uses a plot that anyone can relate to and explains how this particular situation can affect a lot of people. He uses a school and sets characters such as Archie, the school bully that everyone listens to, afriad they will get hurt if they don't, to the best friend Goober, who is there whenever Jerry needs him. With these characters and scene set into place the reader can relate their own school to this book and realize that it is ok to stand up for what you believe in. These elements put together is what makes this book work.

What didn't work?
Overall this book was great! There were only a minimum of things that did not work. The use of some language and actions by some of the characters in the book are not exactly appropriate. "Stepping into the men's room to grab a quick smoke, Archie had pulled open the door to one of the stalls and confronted Janza sitting there, pants dropping on the floor, one hand furiously at work between his legs" (Cormier 104). This is just one of the examples from the book that should not be in there. It goes into to much detail of the scene that most readers would not want to know. Due to Cormier's honesty about the young boy's in this book, it has cause many controversy as to whether they should bann the books from schools.

Also, Cormier's quick transitions between scenes were not the most efficient way to do it. He would go from following Archie's view point of the situation to Jerry's viewpoint on a totally different subject. By doing this the reader has to stop and think for a second about what is going on and what they are now talking about. Other than that this book is a wonderful book that everyone should read.

Why Read The Chocolate War?

This book is a great read! I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good suspenseful plot. Each chapter has something new and exciting and keeps the reader wanting to read more and more. Cormier describes every character with great detail. Even though the situation grows worse and worse the reader is still addicted to keep on reading and finding out more information about the characters. Once this book has been read it will never be forgotten!

Why Is This Book So Outstanding ?

This book is outstanding for many reasons. It begins with a great plot that shows the reader how one student tries to stand uOutstanding-1.gifp to his teacher and what does he get? Bruised eyes and bloody noses. The book begins from the very beginning, building the plot up until the very last page. It keeps the reader wanting to flip page after page reading.

Not only does the plot keep the reader in suspense, but the author, Cormier, does not stop describing. He describes every detail of each character and scene. Each scene the reader reads, they feel as if they are right there with the characters and experiencing everything. He keeps his great descriptions up throughout the book, so that the readers will understand fully what the authors intentions are.

Cormier is also great at tying in symbolism. He uses the black box as a power check. Archie uses the black box in the book to show the other students, he assigns his task to, that he is being fair. He lets everyone know that he is not just using is power, but is also at risk in losing it. He demonstrates that he to has risks by drawing a marble from a box. Cormier also uses the chocolates a symbol of a mother. Jerry's mother had passes away and the chocolates they were selling were mothers day chocolates. By not selling the chocolates Jerry is saying he does not have a mother and will not be sheltered by motherhood, so he will have to endure the torture from other boys at the school for not selling chocolate. He ties everything together so perfectly together that it is hard to deny this book to be anything less than outstanding.

Literary Works:

This book is called The chocolate War. It is written by Robert Cormier. It was published in 1974 by Dell Laurel-Leaf. This book fits under the genre of young adult novels. This book contains many different points of view depending on which chapter it is. This book is told in third person.

Other Outstanding Books:

A Death In The Family:

Cannery Row:

Works Cited:

"Robert Cormier". 1995-2008. 22 Mar. 2009.
"Robert Cormier". Rober Cormier - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 20 Mar. 2009. 22 Mar. 2009. /wiki/Robert_Cormier.
Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War. New York: Dell Laurel-Leaf, 1974.

"The Chocolate War". The Chocolate War: Robert Cormier: Books. 1996-2009. 23 Mar. 2009.

Chocolate, - Soul Control