The Goober arrives at the stadium just in time to hear the rules: "...the kid whose written blow is the one that ends the fight, either by knockout or surrender, receives the prize..." He had been out of school sick for a few days—sick either physically or emotionally, he was not sure. He had heard about the fight between Jerry and Janza and had forced himself from his bed to see it.
The fight begins. Carter draws a slip of paper from a cardboard box, and it directs Jerry to hit Janza in the jaw. Jerry pauses, the crowd gets impatient and Janza taunts him. Jerry swings, but the blow only glances off Janza's jaw. Janza smiles. Carter grabs the next slip of paper, which directs Janza to hit Jerry on the jaw. Jerry readies himself for the hit, and Janza hits him as hard as possible. Jerry feels pain throughout the length of his body, and although he knows Janza is strong, Jerry is surprised at the intensity of the blow. Before Jerry can recover, Carter picks another slip that directs Janza to hit Jerry in the stomach. The next ticket directs Jerry to hit Janza, and Jerry hits him in the face harder than either of them thought he could. Taking out his frustrations against Janza, Archie, the chocolate sale and the entire school, Jerry throws himself into the punch like he never has before. Then, Janza is directed to give Jerry an uppercut.
Students are calling for more action, getting into the fight. Carter draws a card that commands Janza to hit Jerry in the groin. Carter and Archie realize that they made a mistake, since they never said that the groin was off limits. Janza moves to strike Jerry and Jerry blocks the punch. The crowd gets angry, as it happened too quickly for most of them to realize, and they just saw Jerry block a punch. Janza, also angry, decides that all bets are off and begins wailing on Jerry. The students urge Janza on as he pours blow after blow upon Jerry, who is curled up trying to defend himself. Janza gets tired, and while he pauses to catch his breath Jerry strikes at him, knocking Janza off his feet. Janza, really angry now, smashes Jerry in the temple. The Goober counts the punches—sixteen in the row. The crowd chants for Janza to kill Jerry. Just as Jerry passes out, Obie sees Brother Leon in the stands and realizes he was there the whole time. Suddenly the lights go out. As Archie goes looking for the electric cable, Brother Jacques stops him.
The Goober goes to Jerry and tries to wake him up. Goober calls out to him, scared, and finally Jerry comes to. Jerry is in bad shape, and Goober asks Obie to call for a doctor. Jerry tells the Goober what he has realized—that it is best to just do what they ask and not to disturb the universe. Brother Jacques asks Archie why he did it. The ambulance is just leaving the field and Jerry has a broken jaw and possibly internal injuries. Jacques tells Archie that the situation could have gotten even more out of hand. Archie tells him that the chocolates all got sold, and that this was his payoff. Brother Leon joins them, and tells Jacques that "boys will be boys" and tells Archie that he knows Archie did it for the school. Archie realizes that he is in the clear, forever—he, Brother Leon and The Vigils.
Obie tells Archie that someday, he will get his. Archie reveals that he tipped off Brother Leon, calling him before the assembly because he figured "he would enjoy himself. And I also figured that if he was here and part of the proceedings, he'd also be protection for us if anything went wrong." Archie also tells Obie never to pull anything like what he did with the black box ever again.
The fight is gruesome and it is ever bit as bad as the reader could imagine. Janza has no mercy, nor do the students who at once point even urge Janza to kill Jerry. Jerry is alone out there, at the mercy of the students who recently decided that he was not a revolutionary at all, but rather someone who considered himself better than them. Jerry gets in a couple of good punches, but he simply cannot hold his own against Janza. Brother Leon watches the whole thing—once again, Archie is right in guessing that Leon would have enjoyed himself. The fight now silently sanctioned by Leon, Archie knows he cannot get in trouble.
That's my favorite quote from the book and it makes Jerry realize that individuality isn't very meritorious because of the people of the world who will aim to bring you down. This was perfect.
1 out of 2 people found this helpful
Be very clear. There is a mistake. It was David Caroni who was blackmailed by Brother Leon into exposing the Vigils as the reason why Jerry did not sell chocolates. It was NOT Brian Cochran.
5 out of 8 people found this helpful
If there's anything that's been annoying me horribly, is the question of why Jerry and Obie never report the bullying? Did Cormier himself, think that asking authority for help was for pansies; Or am I missing the whole pointlessness of this stupid and dismal story. Yeah, I understand that not everyone would like you in life, but why did He (the writer) have to be so sadistic? I got help when I was bullied, and everything was fine. I guess I just never got a pleasurable rise out of this guy's work. (And I read this twice in my life, plus wat... Read more→