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The Chocolate War

Robert Cormier

Chapters 33–36

Chapters 29–32

Chapters 37–39

Summary

Chapter 33

Archie berates Janza for what he did to Jerry—Archie says it was not supposed to involve a gang of kids. Janza says that being beaten up by a gang of kids is more psychologically damaging. Archie asks if Janza used the "queer pitch" on Jerry, and Janza says it worked perfectly. Archie tells Janza to cool it, and that he will have his chance to finish up later. Janza asks again about the picture and Archie says: "Suppose I told you there was no picture. Emil? That there was no film in the camera that day…." Janza is relieved, but is not quite sure that he can believe it. Janza wonders if he will become part of The Vigils.

Chapter 34

Jerry realizes that he has become invisible. No one looks at him, talks to him, or even acknowledges his existence. Jerry smiles at a classmate who simply stares at him, past him, through him. When Jerry opens his locker he finds the mess and everything else gone. Even the teachers seem to ignore him. Jerry becomes almost grateful for the respite. He looks for Goober, because he knows that Goober will talk to him, but Goober is not in school. After his last class, as he goes down the stairs he is pushed from behind. He grabs the railing and prevents himself from falling, and hears laughter behind him.

Brian Cochran tells Brother Leon that they have all the returns from the chocolates but that Jerry still has not sold any chocolates and they are exactly fifty boxes short. Brian says that they have never sold all the boxes before, nor have they ever collected the exact amount owed from the chocolates. Leon is not concerned with the details. Obie has Jerry's fifty boxes. Archie tells him that they will be having a special assembly tomorrow, and to make sure the entire student body comes to the athletic field for the assembly. Archie tells Obie that he is going to make Jerry raffle off his chocolates.

Chapter 35

The stadium is filling up, and students are buying raffle tickets. The Vigils put an old boxing ring in the stadium that afternoon. Jerry and Janza stand in the ring and Archie marvels at the ease with which he was able to talk Janza and Jerry into doing this. Archie had called Jerry and asked him if he wanted to get even for the chocolates. Archie told Jerry that he could fight Janza in the ring in a boxing match, and that after the fight everything would be all over. Jerry knows he was wrong to agree to come and knows that Archie has beaten him again. Archie tells Jerry and Janza the rules, and although Jerry is shocked and scared, Janza agrees. The stadium is full and neither can back out now.

Chapter 36

Archie looks at one of the raffle tickets. It says: "Janza/Right to Jaw/Jimmy Demers." Jerry and Janza have to fight according to the tickets. Carter is blown away by the success of the plan, and considers putting down Jerry for a hit in his own raffle ticket, but at the last minute changes his mind. Archie tells Carter that this plan works because "people are two things: greedy and cruel." Brian Cochran reports to Archie that all of the tickets have been sold.

Carter stands in the ring and Archie ready to begin when Obie comes forward with the black box. Archie is shocked, but in front of the school, most of whom know about the black box, he cannot refuse. Archie is furious, but acts calm and cool in front of the other students. Archie decides to get the process over with as quickly as possible, so that the students cannot really tell what is happening. Archie reaches out quickly and grabs a white marble. Obie wants to slow it down, make Archie nervous, but he cannot. Archie reaches out again and grabs the second marble, holding it out in his hand. He waits, takes a dramatic pause, smiles and opens his hand to reveal a second white marble.

Analysis

With Janza on his side, Archie's warfare has now embraced the physical. Janza's approach assaults Jerry from all angles. First, he uses the "queer" tactic on Jerry, baiting and taunting him, making him angry and emotionally vulnerable. Then Janza uses his own technique then, using a bunch of his friends who would "beat up their own grandmothers for a quarter." Archie finally reveals to Janza that there is no picture, knowing full well that Janza would not know whether to believe him. Archie seals his manipulation of Janza by making a comment about Janza's future with The Vigils. Archie knows that the ultimate situation for Janza would be one in which he could enforce the ideas of others, and be used as brawn, not the brains, but have the benefit of both.

Jerry's experience of being "invisible" in Chapter 34 is somewhat surreal. He experiences the world as if he is not there—as if he has been eliminated by The Vigils. It is unclear exactly how The Vigils got the students and the teachers to ignore Jerry. Showing Jerry that his existence is relatively unimportant is another kind of psychological punishment. Jerry almost welcomes it, because it is less brutal than being beaten. He looks for the one person who can ground him, but The Goober is not in school. Jerry is once and for all on his own, without a single friend to stand by him. Not even Brother Leon recognizes Jerry anymore, as he does not care that Jerry's chocolates are unsold.

In Chapter 35, Cormier tells the reader that there is an assembly at the stadium without describing what it is about. Like Jerry, we do not realize what is going to happen until it actually does. It is not clear why Jerry accepts when Archie calls him—Archie tells him that he and Janza will be boxing in the ring. Jerry cannot think that he can actually beat Janza in a fight. Perhaps the prospect of the whole ordeal being over is what Jerry is after, no matter what the cost. It is easy to understand why Janza would accept, as he gets to beat someone up in front of the entire school. Janza has nothing to lose, and in a sense Jerry does not either. He has been beaten up physically and emotionally for some time, and if it ends here at the assembly, for better or for worse, at least it ends.

The raffle is actually a write-in series of commands for Jerry and Janza. The students get to dictate who strikes whom and where. The fact that the tickets sell out only confirms The Goober's statement that something is rotten at the school. None of the students seem to have qualms about what is happening there. They all show up, and none of them protest the events, nor do they blow the whistle and call an administrator. Archie's statement about people being greedy and cruel is dead on and the students prove Archie right. Jerry's last chance is the black box. Obie wants to sabotage Archie, and wants to stop whatever it is about him that is unspeakably cruel. Obie knows that if Archie draws a black marble, the whole event is over, perhaps even The Vigils as a society. But Archie, always lucky and always in control, draws two white marbles without skipping a beat or sweating a bead.

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by poetic-oreos, January 04, 2013

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.

ATTENTION: VERY IMPORTANT

by Gracelyn0509, June 10, 2013

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.

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