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The Chocolate War

Robert Cormier

Study Questions and Suggested Essay Topics

Key Facts

Quiz

Study Questions

Why does Jerry refuse to sell the chocolates?

Initially Jerry refuses to sell the chocolates because The Vigils tell him too. At first, Jerry abides by their order because it is the easiest and most natural response. After the ten days are up, something in him does not allow him to accept the chocolates. Not selling the chocolates is more than simply defying Brother Leon, the sale, and The Vigils, and Jerry struggles to figure out why he refused the chocolates. He even tosses and turns in bed, and has trouble answering The Goober when he asks Jerry why Jerry continues to refuse. Eventually, Jerry looks at the poster in his locker and it clicks—this is Jerry's chance to disturb the universe. Jerry wants to make his own decision and to register his own protest. He does not want to obey Brother Leon, The Vigils or the school, but rather for the first time wants to obey himself.

Why does Brother Leon ask Archie for help in the chocolate sale?

There are a number of reasons Brother Leon decides to ask Archie and The Vigils for help. First is his own desperation, since he took funds from the school without authorization and knows he will be in big trouble if he does not pay them back. Secondly, as the teacher in charge of the sale he wants the sale to succeed to reflect on himself and his own success as an administrator. Third, he and everyone else in the school are aware of The Vigils and their power over the students. Leon knows that a little manipulation from a powerful source could push the students to sell more chocolates. Finally, Leon to some extent wants to pair up with Archie. He knows that The Vigils run the school from the students' standpoint, just as he runs the school from the teacher's standpoint. He knows that joining forces could make both he and Archie even more powerful, even after the sale is over.

Why does Jerry agree to participate in the boxing match?

There is no definite answer to this question. Jerry must know that he will end up losing the fight. Emile Janza is one of the strongest guys in school, and he has already succeeded in beating Jerry up. Jerry might want to get back at Janza, but he has to know that chances are that Janza will beat him up again. Jerry is in the situation up to his ears by the time Archie decides to have the assembly, however. He cannot really say no—not if he is trying to stand up for his right to make waves in the universe. To display cowardice at the key moment would be to undermine much of what Jerry has already done and fought for. He relishes the opportunity to somehow get back at Archie, but he knows that the whole episode will last even longer if he does not attend the match. Who knows how many more phone calls or ambushes he would undergo if he refused to attend? Jerry follows through to the end, demonstrating impressive bravery. Facing Janza in the ring he had to be frightened and know that it would take a miracle for him to win the fight or even emerge unscathed. This is Jerry's last chance to disturb the universe and finish what he started.

Suggested Essay Topics

Why does The Goober pull back and not help Jerry during his ordeal with The Vigils?

Does Archie have an intention of making Janza a member of The Vigils?

Why does Obie silently acquiesce to Archie's demands even though he knows they are wrong? Why does he suddenly decide to try and dethrone Archie at the end of the book?

Why don't any of the other teachers at school insist on punishing Archie for Room nineteen or the boxing match?

What is the significance of the fact that the high school in the book is an all- boys school? What does the lack of female characters suggest?

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Last Quote

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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