The Chocolate War

Posted by barb on Sep 20, 2003 in Books |

by Robert Cormier

While the annual fundraising chocolate sale at Trinity prep school is voluntary, no boy has ever refused to sell the chocolates. Until this year. Jerry is a freshman whose mother died the previous spring. He has gotten a spot on the football team, but his school spirit does not extend to the annual chocolate sale.

Behind the scenes at Trinity, the secret school society, the Vigils, are at work. They give assignments to various boys throughout the year as a stepping stone into the society. This year, they have been pressured into assuring that the chocolate sale is a success. However, with Jerry’s refusal to sell, other boys see that they, too, don’t have to participate. Chocolate sales fall.

As Jerry continues to defy the Vigils, he finds that his life starts to spiral down into hell. He gets pummeled at football practice. The phone at his apartment rings at all hours, with only a chuckle on the other end of the receiver. Still he refuses.

While the book is a bit dated in places (it was written in the 1970s), the themes hold up well over time. The ending is also much more realistic than the novels that end with all the villains getting their due. Of course, this also makes the ending quite unsettling.

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