Jerry Renault, is a freshmen at Trinity, a Catholic high school for boys. He is a quiet and reserved student, silently coping following the death of his mother.
One day Jerry is approached by Archie Costello, who is the Assigner for the Vigils, a secret underground student society. Each student when joining the Vigils is assigned a task (think hazing and peer pressure). Jerry’s assignment is to refuse to sell any chocolates for ten days during the school’s fundraiser.
Jerry decides after the ten days to still refuse to sell chocolates, which puts him at heads with the Vigils and sadistic vice principal Brother Leon. His defiant act turns into an all-out war with bullying and coercion.
The novel highlights the Vigil’s manipulation, cruelty and control over students. This very dark depiction of the abuse of authority could easily be a metaphor for any corrupt political society in the world.
Due to its content the book is frequently banned and appears third on the American Library Association’s list of Top 100 Banned / Challenged Books in 2000 – 2009.
The novel was adapted into a feature film in 1988, directed by Keith Gordon.
The first thing that grabbed my attention was the male point of view. The author is always direct while creating a concrete depiction of the world surrounding the protagonist. The protagonist develops a sense of purpose and a necessity to impact the world he lives in, in exchange, he is ostracized. From the beginning to the end, I kept hoping for the hero to grab a moment of victory, or at least, savor a little justice. That moment of redemption never came and with no doubt it makes Cormier's novel a more unique and certainly, unpredictable YA story.
A more developed group of characters would have been a plus. Brother Leon,Archie and of course Jerry(protagonist) represent different dimensions of the human condition. Jerry is the idealist, Archie is the egocentric coward and Leon the manipulative abusive. They represent the best and the worst and therefore are interesting and capture the readers attention. On the other hand, Obie, Carter and Goober could do more. After reading the book, these three left some unresolved conflicts: Obie's emotional dichotomy of admiration/hate against Archie, Carter false sense of control and authority- Archie marionette and Goober motivations for abandoning everything he enjoys.
I was left with questions and I'm still hoping Jerry wins his war. He acted guided by his values and he truly changed his universe.I read this book on a leap of faith, no doubt an excellent decision.
The Chocolate War is a great book and is one I would like all of you to read. I remember buying this book and thinking how simple the story sounded. The chocolate war is something more than a frivolous candy sale, it represents fighting for what you think is fair, it is about what do you believe and stand for.
This review of The
Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier, is written by five high school seniors as
an independent reading assignment for our 12th grade English class.
first, the book was a little overwhelming as it seemed to jump back and forth
and new characters were always being introduced. This made it difficult to follow. Until about halfway through the book, it was
hard to understand what was truly occurring. However, after that point, it was easy to follow yet action packed and
novel was the first of many for Robert Cormier. Other popular works by Cormier include I am the Cheese, After
the First Death, and We All Fall Down. The Chocolate War is his most
well-known, yet all the previously mentioned have won awards. His work is very controversial, often due to
vulgarity, profanity, and the fact that the protagonist usually doesnt win.
the novel, Jerry Renault is thrown into Trinity High School
with the question, Do I dare disturb the universe? It seems as though everyone is trying to
influence him as he prepares to start a new life at a new high school, shortly
after the death of his mother. The grasp
of the schools secret society, the Vigils, will have a greater impact on his
life than he would ever imagine.
book was very easy to relate to due to the situations that were brought up such
as peer pressure, bullying, and longing for power. Some may consider the language offensive,
however, it was a very realistic high school setting. Although there were many different
characters, they were all very well developed and presented in a believable
a whole, we would recommend this book to anyone wanting insight into the true
life of a high school student. Understand that the book may be offensive to some, yet the vulgarity is
necessary to portray high school life accurately. The books ability to relate to real life is
unbelievable. Even the most minute
details that many overlook truthfully enhance the reading experience. So if you dare disturb the universe, this is
a book for you.
Jerry is made to sell chocolates for his school fund raiser. Except that a gang, called The Vigils are making him refuse to sell the chocolates for a period of set days. Once his "assignment" is up, he is supposed to sell the chocolates for his school. Only he refuses. He is not only going against The Vigils, but also against his school.
This book was really good. I thought that it was a bit hard to get into, but overall it was a decent read. I liked how Jerry was so set on what HE wanted, instead of listening to his school and the gang that has been known to bully people. I didn't like the ending, however. But I'm really glad that I read it.
One kid refuses to sell chocolates for a school fundraiser and the impact that one small step has on the entire school. Do you dare to disturb the universe?
Ever since its publication in 1974, this book has often appeared in the top 10 books that are banned or challenged for sexual content, offensive language, religious viewpoint, being unsuited to age group and violence.
The sexual content being masturbation, the offensive language is certainly not excessive for a boys school and tame by todays standards, Im not sure what they mean by religious viewpoint, unless they mean that some of the brothers at the school are sadistic (and some are good), and I guess it would be unsuited for younger readers. There is graphically described violence.
This is not a sunny book, and its not a Catcher in the Rye about finding yourself. This book, seems to be about manipulators. Everyone at the school with any power, teacher or student, is a master manipulator. For the students that are just trying to get along, there doesnt seem to be any good way to avoid the manipulators without hurting yourself. There also are some points to be made about being an individual and the pain of not being one with the group think.
Its amazing that the points made about forced constant fundraising by schools are still valid after 34 years!
This book is a great read because you see the points of view of not only one character but of many. It paints a very realistic portrait of life. Alhtough I am a girl and the book deals mainly with boys at an all boys school I still found it to be an interesting read.
I suppose that I recommend this book mostly for boys but girls can read it and enjoy it as well.