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Jerry's actions speak louder than his words. In fact, for a protagonist he is very quiet. What he does, however, speaks volumes. His refusal to sell the chocolates and his silent protest against both The Vigils and Brother Leon demonstrate a defiance and strength that are belied by his reticence. Jerry is full of surprises, and he does not always appear to be as strong as his actions suggest. He is beaten up and traumatized, and never says a word. He could have called the police when the phone calls continue incessantly, or he could have called the police after the first time Emile Janza beat him up. He never does, however. He does not complain about the situation he is in and he does not even tell his father. Instead, he takes what happens to him stoically.
Jerry's sudden decision not to accept the chocolates when The Vigils assignment is over begins his downward spiral. The action is brave and it comes from within. Jerry did not anticipate refusing the chocolates, he just does. He feels good about himself for a while, and the other students admire him too. The poster in his locker is a beacon of hope for him, and throughout the book affirms his decision to go against the tide. Jerry knows that he is standing up for what he feels is right, but he never knew how difficult it would be to do so. Most of the time there is backlash when someone decides to do his own thing, but the punishment Jerry undergoes is beyond that. His privacy is shattered, his home life disrupted, his homework stolen, locker trashed and his safety is compromise. The Vigils strip him of everything he has, except his decision not to sell the chocolates. This is the reason he clings so tightly to that decision, even though he knows that simply accepting the chocolates would stop The Vigils from harassing him any more. Jerry wants to keep control over one thing in his life, whether or not he sells the chocolates.
Jerry's last decision is to take part in the boxing match. It is not clear if he does thing simply to get the whole situation over with, or whether he fails to realize the potential danger of the situation. Perhaps Jerry feels that if he refuses he will eventually be drawn into a similarly unfair fight. At the end Jerry realizes it is not worth it to resist or refuse and that he has learned that the easiest and best course of action in life is to do that which he is expected and told to do.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Chocolate War!