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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

One of the most controversial YA novels of all time, The Chocolate War is a modern masterpiece that speaks to fans of S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and John Knowles’s A Separate Peace.
 
After suffering rejection from seven major publishers, The Chocolate War made its debut in 1974, and quickly became a bestselling—and provocative—classic for young adults. This chilling portrait of an all-boys prep school casts an unflinching eye on the pitfalls of conformity and corruption in our most elite cultural institutions.

“Masterfully structured and rich in theme; the action is well crafted, well timed, suspenseful.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“The characterizations of all the boys are superb.”—School Library Journal, starred review

“Compellingly immediate. . . . Readers will respect the uncompromising ending.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Editor’s Choice
A New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year



From the Trade Paperback edition.

Excerpt

THEY MURDERED HIM.

As he turned to take the ball, a dam burst against the side of his head and a hand grenade shattered his stomach. Engulfed by nausea, he pitched toward the grass. His mouth encountered gravel, and he spat frantically, afraid that some of his teeth had been knocked out. Rising to his feet, he saw the field through drifting gauze but held on until everything settled into place, like a lens focusing, making the world sharp again, with edges.

The second play called for a pass. Fading back, he picked up a decent block and cocked his arm, searching for a receiver - maybe the tall kid they called The Goober. Suddenly, he was caught from behind and whirled violently, a toy boat caught in a whirlpool. Landing on his knees, hugging the ball, he urged himself to ignore the pain that gripped his groin, knowing that it was important to betray no sign of distress, remembering The Goober's advice, "Coach is testing you, testing, and he's looking for guts."

I've got guts. Jerry murmured, getting up by degrees, careful not to displace any of his bones or sinews. A telephone rang in his ears. Hello, hello, I'm still here. When he moved his lips, he tasted the acid of dirt and grass and gravel. He was aware of the other players around him, helmeted and grotesque, creatures from an unknown world. He had never felt so lonely in his life, abandoned, defenseless.

On the third play, he was hit simultaneously by three of them: one, his knees; another, his stomach; a third, his head - the helmet no protection at all. His body seemed to telescope into itself but all the parts didn't fit, and he was stunned by the knowledge that pain isn't just one thing - it is cunning and various, sharp here and sickening there, burning here and clawing there. He clutched himself as he hit the ground. The ball squirted away. His breath went away, like the ball - a terrible stillness pervaded him - and then, at the onset of panic, his breath came back again. His lips sprayed wetness and he was grateful for the sweet cool air that filled his lungs. But when he tried to get up, his body mutinied against movement. He decided the hell with it. He'd go to sleep right here, right out on the fifty yard line, the hell with trying out for the team, screw everything, he was going to sleep, he didn't care anymore--

"Renault!"

Ridiculous, someone calling his name.

"Renault!"

The coach's voice scraped like sandpaper against his ears. He opened his eyes flutteringly. "I'm all right," he said to nobody in particular, or to his father maybe. Or the coach. He was unwilling to abandon this lovely lassitude but he had to, of course. He was sorry to leave the earth, and he was vaguely curious about how he was going to get up, with both legs smashed and his skull battered in. He was astonished to find himself on his feet, intact, bobbing like one of those toy novelties dangling from car windows, but erect.

"For Christ's sake," the coach bellowed, his voice juicy with contempt. A spurt of saliva hit Jerry's cheek.

Hey, coach, you spit on me, Jerry protested. Stop the spitting, coach. What he said aloud was, "I'm all right, coach," because he was a coward about stuff like that, thinking one thing and saying another, planning one thing and doing another - he had been Peter a thousand times and a thousand cocks had crowed in his lifetime.

"How tall are you, Renault?"

"Five nine," he gasped, still fighting for breath.

"Weight?"

"One forty-five," he said, looking the coach straight in the eye.

"Soaking wet, I'll bet," the coach said sourly. "What the hell you want to play football for? You need more meat on those bones. What the hell you trying to play quarterback for? You'd make a better end. Maybe."

The coach looked like an old gangster: broken nose, a scar on his check like a stitched shoestring. He needed a shave, his stubble like slivers of ice. He growled and swore and was merciless. But a helluva coach, they said. The coach stared at him now, the dark eyes probing, pondering. Jerry hung in there, trying not to sway, trying not to faint.

"All right," the coach said in disgust. "Show up tomorrow. Three o'clock sharp or you're through before you start."

Inhaling the sweet sharp apple air through his nostrils - he was afraid to open his mouth wide, wary of any movement that was not absolutely essential - he walked tentatively toward the sidelines, listening to the coach barking at the other guys. Suddenly, he loved that voice, "Show up tomorrow."

He trudged away from the field, blinking against the afternoon sun, toward the locker room at the gym. His knees were liquid and his body light as air, suddenly.

Know what? He asked himself, a game he played sometimes.

What?

I'm going to make the team.

Dreamer, dreamer.

Not a dream: it's the truth.

As Jerry took another deep breath, a pain appeared, distant, small - a radar signal of distress. Bleep, I'm here. Pain. His feet scuffled through crazy cornflake leaves. A strange happiness invaded him. He knew he'd been massacred by the oncoming players, capsized and dumped humiliatingly on the ground. But he'd survived - he'd gotten to his feet. "You'd make a better end." Was the coach thinking he might try him at end? Any position, as long as he made the team. The bleep grew larger, localized now, between his ribs on the right side. He thought of his mother and how drugged she was at the end, not recognizing anyone, neither Jerry nor his father. The exhilaration of the moment vanished and he sought it in vain, like seeking ecstasy's memory an instant after jacking off and encountering only shame and guilt.

Nausea began to spread through his stomach, warm and oozy and evil.

"Hey," he called weakly. To nobody. Nobody there to listen.

He managed to make it back to the school. By the time he had sprawled himself on the floor of the lavatory, his head hanging over the lip of the toilet bowl and the smell of disinfectant stinging his eyeballs, the nausea had passed and the bleep of pain had faded. Sweat moved like small moist bugs on his forehead.

And then, without warning, he vomited.
Robert Cormier|Author Q&A

About Robert Cormier

Robert Cormier - The Chocolate War

Photo © James Patrick Langlands

“I can’t remember a time, really, when I haven’t been a writer. . . . Reading and writing were the two great escapes of my life and I suppose they still are.”—Robert Cormier

Robert Cormier is a Margaret A. Edwards Award winner, and his books repeatedly appear on the best books lists of the American Library Association, The New York Times, and School Library Journal.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Robert Cormier (pronounced kor-MEER) lived all his life in Leominster, Massachusetts, a small town in the north-central part of the state, where he grew up as part of a close, warm community of French Canadian immigrants and lived with his wife, Connie, also from Leominster, and where they raised their three daughters and one son—all adults now. They never saw a reason to leave. “There are lots of untold stories right here on Main Street,” Cormier once said.

A newspaper reporter and columnist for 30 years (working for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette and the Fitchburg Sentinel), Cormier was often inspired by news stories. What makes his works unique is his ability to make evil behavior understandable, though, of course, still evil. “I’m very much interested in intimidation,” he told an interviewer from School Library Journal. “And the way people manipulate other people. And the obvious abuse of authority.” All of these themes are evident in his young adult classic and best-known book, The Chocolate War. A 15-year-old fan of Cormier’s told him, “You always write from inside the person.”

Cormier traveled the world, from Australia (where he felt particularly thrilled by putting his hand in the Indian Ocean) and New Zealand to most of the countries in Europe, speaking at schools, colleges, and universities, and to teacher and librarian associations. He visited nearly every state in the nation. While Cormier loved to travel, he said many times that he also loved returning to his home in Leominster.

Cormier was a practicing Catholic and attended parochial school, where in seventh grade, one of his teachers discovered his ability to write. But Cormier had always wanted to be a writer: “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t trying to get something down on paper.” His first poems were published in the Leominster Daily Enterprise, and his first professional publication occurred while he was a freshman at Fitchburg State College. His professor, Florence Conlon, sent his short story, without his knowledge, to The Sign, a national Catholic magazine. The story, titled “The Little Things That Count,” sold for $75.

Cormier’s first work as a writer was at radio station WTAG in Worcester, MA, where he wrote scripts and commercials from 1946 to 1948. In 1948, he began his award-winning career as a newspaperman with the Worcester Telegram, first in its Leominster office and later in its Fitchburg office. He wrote a weekly human-interest column, “A Story from the Country,” for that newspaper.

In 1955, Cormier joined the staff of the Fitchburg Sentinel, which later became the Fitchburg-Leominster Sentinel and Enterprise, as the city hall and political reporter. He later served as wire and associate editor and wrote a popular twice-weekly column under the pseudonym John Fitch IV. The column received the national K.R. Thomason Award in 1974 as the best human-interest column written that year. That same year, he was honored by the New England Associated Press Association for having written the best news story under pressure of deadline. He left newspaper work in 1978 to devote all his time to writing.

Robert Cormier’s first novel, Now and at the Hour, was published in 1960. Inspired by his father’s death, the novel drew critical acclaim and was featured by Time magazine for five weeks on its “Recommended Reading” list. It was followed in 1963 by A Little Raw on Monday Mornings and in 1965 by Take Me Where the Good Times Are, also critically acclaimed. The author was hailed by the Newark Advocate as being “in the first rank of American Catholic novelists.”

In 1974, Cormier published The Chocolate War, the novel that is still a bestseller. Instantly acclaimed, it was also the object of censorship attempts because of its uncompromising realism. In a front-page review in a special children’s issue of The New York Times Book Review, it was described as “masterfully structured and rich in theme,” and it went on to win countless awards and honors, was taught in schools and colleges throughout the world, and was translated into more than a dozen languages. I Am the Cheese followed in 1977 and After the First Death in 1979.

These three books established Cormier as a master of the young adult novel. In 1991, the Young Adult Services Division of the American Library Association presented him with the Margaret A. Edwards Award, citing the trio of books as “brilliantly crafted and troubling novels that have achieved the status of classics in young adult literature.”

In 1982, Cormier was honored by the National Council of Teachers of English and its Adolescent Literature Assembly (ALAN) for his “significant contribution to the field of adolescent literature” and for his “innovative creativity.”

8 Plus 1, an anthology of short stories that have appeared in such publications as the Saturday Evening Post, The Sign, and Redbook, was published in 1980. In later years, many of the stories in the collection, notably “The Moustache,” “President Cleveland, Where Are You?” and “Mine on Thursdays,” appeared in anthologies and school textbooks. The collection also received the World of Reading Readers’ Choice Award, sponsored by Silver Burdett & Ginn, especially notable because young readers voted for Cormier to receive the prize.

I Have Words to Spend, a collection of his newspaper and magazine columns, was published in 1991, assembled and edited by his wife, Connie.

Robert Cormier’s other novels include The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, 1983; Beyond the Chocolate War, 1985; Fade, 1988; Other Bells for Us to Ring, 1990; We All Fall Down, 1991; Tunes for Bears to Dance To, 1992; In the Middle of the Night, 1995; Tenderness, 1997; Heroes, 1998; and Frenchtown Summer, 1999. Frenchtown Summer won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction in April 2000. All his novels have won critical praise and honors.

In the Middle of the Night and Tenderness were short-listed for the Carnegie Medal in England, and Heroes received a “Highly Commended” citation for that same award, unique honors because the Carnegie Medal is traditionally awarded to a British book.

Cormier's novels have frequently come under attack by censorship groups because they are uncompromising in their depictions of the problems young people face each day in a turbulent world. Teachers and librarians have been quick to point out that his novels are eminently teachable, valuable, and moral. His novels are taught in hundreds of schools and in adolescent literature courses in colleges and universities.

Though many of his books are described as written for young adults, in fact people of all ages read and enjoy Cormier’s work. His themes of the ordinariness of evil and what happens when good people stand by and do nothing are treated seriously, and he never provides the easy comfort of a happy ending. Cormier’s gripping stories explore some of the darker corners of the human psyche, but always with a moral focus and a probing intelligence that compel readers to examine their own feelings and ethical beliefs.

In an interview, Cormier was asked if he had accomplished what he set out to do at the beginning of his writing career. He answered with characteristic humility: “Oh, yes. My dream was to be known as a writer and to be able to produce at least one book that would be read by people. That dream came true with the publication of my first novel–and all the rest has been a sweet bonus. All I’ve ever wanted to do, really, was to write.” His writing has left the world a legacy of wonderful books, a body of work that will endure.


PRAISE


BEYOND THE CHOCOLATE WAR
“Cormier is almost unique in his powerful integration of the personal, political, and moral.”—The New York Times Book Review


FADE
“Imagine what might happen if Holden Caulfield stepped into H. G. Wells’s The Invisible Man, and you’ll have an idea how good Fade is. . . . I was absolutely riveted.”—Stephen King


IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
“Convincingly and enticingly complex.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“One of the eeriest of Cormier's thrillers, this account of vengeance and obsession provides the brand of suspense that has earned him so many fans.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“Spectacular . . . unnerving and piercingly honest . . . it doesn’t end at the end.”—The New York Times Book Review

“From the very first page, readers will be caught up in the story.”—Booklist

“Superbly written, with characters well developed and a tight, fast-moving plot. . . . A must read.”—VOYA

“An intense and powerful exploration of the burdens of accusation and guilt.”—The Horn Book Magazine


HEROES
“Cormier is once again on top of his game. . . . His story will hold fans from first page to last.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“Powerful.”—Starred, VOYA

“[A] powerhouse novel . . . that will follow the reader long after the story has ended.”—Booklist

“Compelling . . . and thought-provoking.”—School Library Journal


OTHER BELLS FOR US TO RING
“Superbly crafted. . . . A provocative look at the meaning of belief.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews


TENDERNESS
“Cormier is in top form in this chilling portrait of a serial murderer. . . . [A] gripping tale.”—Starred, School Library Journal

“A mesmerizing plunge into the mind of a psychopathic teen killer that is both deeply disturbing and utterly compelling.”—Focus Review, Booklist

“The novel has a wealth of depth and complexity . . . Cormier’s best yet.”—The Book Report

“Vivid characterizations. . . . Cormier performs literary magic by making us empathize with these two teenagers who live at society’s far edges.”—VOYA

“Suspenseful and chilling. . . . Vintage Cormier: short pithy sentences and bends in the text take the reader along startling paths.”—The Horn Book Magazine

Author Q&A

The following introduction to The Chocolate War was written by Robert Cormier in 1997.

The Chocolate War
was written during weekday evening hours and Saturday mornings in parts of 1969, 1970, and 1971 while I was working full-time as a newspaper editor and columnist.

Writing the novel was a labor of love. Although the setting was a Catholic boys’ high school, I regarded the school as a metaphor for the world. On the other hand, I knew that, on its primary level, this was a story about a school chocolate sale. Who would be interested in reading such a story? I sometimes wondered. Yet I was having such a good time as the words leaped and danced on the page and the characters of Jerry Renault, Archie Costello, and Brother Leon came alive that I didn’t worry about it.

It seems incredible to me that more than two decades later, The Chocolate War continues to be read and taught (and to cause problems) in classrooms here in the United States and in such places as England, Australia, Sweden, France, and Japan, among others.

Yet the novel was almost stillborn and existed for more than a year in a kind of literary no-man’s-land. Seven major publishers rejected it over the course of thirteen months in 1972 and 1973. The reasons? Too complicated. Too many characters. A downbeat ending, which teenagers of the 1970s would find difficult to accept. Too violent. Not quite an adult novel, too sophisticated to be a juvenile novel. Too unbelievable. That frustrating “Not for us,” without further comment. One publisher, however, seriously considered accepting it if some changes were made, particularly to the ending.

I decided not to change or revise the novel. This was not a heroic gesture but an act of innocence. I knew nothing of the young adult market, was unaware of its then traditions and taboos, the domination of “safe” stories with role-model heroes walking off into the sunset of happy endings.

Although The Chocolate War does not have that hoped-for happy ending, its history has had happy moments and its share of heroes.

My son, Peter, inspired the novel when he refused, as a matter of principle, to sell the chocolates at his school’s annual sale.

Marilyn E. Marlow, my literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd., supported my decision against revisions and insisted that the novel, as written, would find its place in the world of young adult literature, convinced that the young adult market was entering a period of change, heralded by the earlier appearances of S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Paul Zindel’s The Pigman.

Finally, Fabio Coen, then publisher of Books for Young Readers at Pantheon Books and Knopf, the eighth publisher to whom the book was submitted, accepted it for publication in April of 1973.

I worried about revisions. Needlessly, as it turned out. At a brief “editing session” at Fabio Coen’s office, his suggestions were few and minor, scrawled on a single sheet of paper. But he was doubtful about a short chapter toward the end of the novel.

Astonished, I realized it was a chapter I had agonized about earlier, actually removing it at one time, then reinstating it. I had found an editor who shared my instincts and my intentions. The chapter was removed. Otherwise, the novel was published essentially as I wrote it, in April of 1974. Fabio Coen became my mentor and remained so until his retirement several books later.

The success of The Chocolate War is testimony to all the other heroes involved in its history–teachers who have taught the book in the face of censorship attempts that sometimes threatened their jobs; librarians who have had to fight to keep the novel available to readers; critics, writers, and educators who supported the novel in countless reviews and essays; all the young people who continue to write me letters, who call me up, who organize protests when the book faces yet another banning threat; Pantheon Books, followed by Knopf and Dell Laurel-Leaf, who have kept the book in continuous print in hardback and softcover.

Talk about happy endings!
–Robert Cormier
Leominster, Massachusetts, 1997

Praise | Awards

Praise

"The Chocolate War is masterfully structured and rich in theme; the action is well crafted, well timed, suspenseful; complex ideas develop and unfold with clarity."-The New York Times Book Review

"The characterizations of all the boys are superb...  This novel [is] unique in its uncompromising portrait of human cruelty and conformity."-School Library Journal, starred review

"The novel is cleverly written with a good sense of the realistic and a good ear for dialouge, qualities which will attract any reader."-Bestsellers

"Robert Cormier has written a brilliant novel."-Children's Book Revie Service

Awards

WINNER 1974 School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
WINNER 1974 ALA Best Books for Young Adults
WINNER 1974 ALA the Best of the Best Books for Young Adults
WINNER 1974 New York Times Notable Books of the Year
Reader's Guide|About the Book|Author Biography|Discussion Questions|Suggestions

About the Book

In Robert Cormier's unforgettable novels, an individual often stands alone, fighting for what is right--or just to survive--against powerful, sinister, and sometimes evil people. His twisty, gripping stories explore some of the darker corners of the human psyche but always with a moral focus and a probing intelligence that compels readers to examine their own feelings and ethical beliefs. The questions that follow are intended to spur discussion and to provoke thoughtful readers to contemplate some of the issues of identity, character, emotion, and morality that make Cormier's books so compelling.

Pre-Reading Activity

Tell students that Jerry Renault has a poster in his locker with the following quote from T. S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: “Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?” Divide students into small groups and ask them to interpret the quote. What is their universe? Who controls their universe? What price does one pay when they elect to disturb the universe?

About the Guide

"No one who has read Robert Cormier's young adult novel The Chocolate War can forget the anguish of that final fight under the spotlights at the Trinity School." --The New York Times Book Review

When it was first published, The New York Times Book Review described The Chocolate War as “masterfully structured and rich in theme; the action is well crafted, well timed, suspenseful; complex ideas develop and unfold with clarity.” As this remarkable novel celebrates its 30th anniversary, take the time to rediscover its power and its call for readers to dare to disturb the universe.

Freshman Jerry Renault falls victim to The Vigils, a secret society that controls the social order of the school, when he refuses to participate in a school fund-raising activity.

A freshman at Trinity High School, Jerry Renault is still mourning the death of his mother, struggling to survive on the football team, and searching for a place among his peers. Jerry soon becomes the target of Archie Costello and The Vigils. When Brother Leon, the acting headmaster launches a chocolate sale, The Vigils instruct Jerry to refuse participation for 10 days. Jerry accepts the command, and ponders the question “Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?” For a brief time, Jerry is a hero, but when he refuses to be bullied into selling the chocolates at all, he finds himself in a showdown with Archie, The Vigils, and Brother Leon.

About the Author

Robert Cormier (1925—2000) has been called “the single most important writer in the whole history of young adult literature.” His many acclaimed books include The Chocolate War, I Am the Cheese, After the First Death, Beyond the Chocolate War, Fade, The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, We All Fall Down, Tunes for Bears to Dance To, In the Middle of the Night, Other Bells for Us to Ring, 8 + 1, Tenderness, Heroes, Frenchtown Summer, and The Rag and Bone Shop. His books have won many awards and have been translated into several languages, becoming modern classics. In 1991, the Young Adult Services Division of the American Library Association presented him with the Margaret A. Edwards Award, honoring his lifetime contribution to writing for teens.


From the Paperback edition.

Discussion Guides

1. Jerry places a poster in his locker that says, “Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?” At first, he doesn’t understand the meaning of the poster; he just likes it. At what point in the novel does it appear that Jerry is beginning to get the meaning of the poster?

2. Contrast Jerry’s definition of “his universe” at the beginning and the end of the novel.

3. How does Jerry become a martyr by disturbing his universe?

4. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Discuss how Jerry might interpret this quote. How does Emerson promote nonconformity and disturbing the universe? Debate whether Jerry leaves a trail at Trinity.

5. The Chocolate War is one of the most censored books in America. It is under perpetual attack because of Cormier’s “negative portrayal of human nature,” and because the ending appears hopeless. Discuss the objections to the book, and think about how Cormier “disturbed the universe” by writing the novel. Why do people fear a realistic portrayal of life? What is the relationship between looking at the “good and evils” of life to “disturbing the universe”?

6. How do gangs and secret societies like the Vigils use peer pressure to gain power and control?

7. What is the significance of the scene where Jerry encounters the hippies? Discuss how they make him question his place among his peers.

8. How is misinformation about the chocolate sale used to maintain peer pressure? Discuss how this tactic affects Goober, who quit selling the chocolates after 27 boxes.

9. Discuss the relationship between peer pressure and conformity.

10. Compare and contrast the peer pressure at Trinity with peer pressure in your own school. Brother Leon actually promotes peer pressure at Trinity. Discuss ways a school administrator should deal with peer pressure. What should students do if they feel they are the victims of extreme peer pressure?

11. Archie Costello, one of the leaders of the Vigils, doesn’t believe in violence. How does this make him different from the typical school bully? Which character in the novel best fits the typical school bully profile?

12. Discuss the difference between physical and psychological bullying. Which is more damaging?

13. How is Brother Leon a bully? Describe his quiet tactics, and his obsession with getting revenge on Jerry.

14. Why is Jerry Renault an easy target for bullies like the Vigils and Brother Leon? Why doesn’t Archie give “assignments” to most athletes?

15. Discuss why Jerry never explains the phone calls, the missing homework assignment, or the vandalism to his locker to his father.

16. Describe the power of the Vigils. How do they control the social order of the school?

17. Archie Costello is a legend at Trinity High School because he is the “Assigner” for the Vigils. How does this position give him power over the entire student body? How does Archie use manipulation to gain power? How is his power recognized and used by Brother Leon?

18. Brother Leon becomes drunk with power when he is named acting headmaster of Trinity. How is his desire for power in conflict with his training as a priest?

19. Discuss the relationship between power and corruption. How might Goober describe the corruption, or the evil, at Trinity High School?

20. How is Brother Leon’s corruption revealed?

21. How does the opening scene on the football field foreshadow Jerry’s courage?

22. Archie Costello is considered courageous and gutsy. Debate whether he is as courageous as he appears. Why does Archie fear that he may pick a black marble from the box? How might a black marble change his image and position among the Vigils?

23. Discuss how Goober deals with his fear. How might Goober describe Jerry’s courage?

24. How are the Vigils affected when Jerry doesn’t succumb to their fear tactics? Discuss how this leads to his ultimate downfall.

25. Discuss how Jerry might reflect upon his own courage at the end of the novel.

26. The first sentence of this book is "They murdered him." In what ways does this small sentence apply to the book as a whole? Who is murdered, metaphorically, in the book? By whom?

27. There are no main female characters in this book, partly because Trinity is a boys' school. Yet the Trinity boys often discuss girls. Jerry wishes he could talk to the girl near the bus stop. Janza watches girls as they walk by, and Archie won't let anyone touch him except certain girls. What function(s) do you think girls play in the novel?

28. Why do you think Archie is repulsed by human sweat? What do you think this says about Archie as a person?

29. Archie's greatest strength is in exploiting other people's weaknesses. Why do you think Archie does this? Why do you think he needs to manipulate every situation?

30. Discuss the significance of the title. Why is it a chocolate "war"?

31. Why do you think Jerry decides not to sell the chocolates even after his assignment is over? Have you ever dared to "disturb the universe"? What happened?

32. How do you feel about how Brother Leon treated Bailey? At the end of the class Brother Leon says that the students had allowed him to turn the class into Nazi Germany. Do you think this is a true statement?

Suggested Readings

other books by Robert Cormier
All Grades 6 up

8 + 1
Dell Laurel-Leaf • 0-440-20838-6

After the First Death
Dell Laurel-Leaf • 0-440-20835-1

Beyond the Chocolate War
Dell Laurel-Leaf • 0-440-90580-X

The Bumblebee Flies Anyway
Dell Laurel-Leaf • 0-440-90871-X

Fade
Delacorte Press trade paperback • 0-385-73134-5
Dell Laurel-Leaf • 0-440-21091-7

Frenchtown Summer
Delacorte Press • 0-385-32704-8
Dell Laurel-Leaf • 0-440-22854-9

Heroes
Dell Laurel-Leaf • 0-440-22769-0

I Am the Cheese
Alfred A. Knopf • 0-394-83462-3
Dell Laurel-Leaf • 0-440-94060-5

I Have Words to Spend
Delacorte Press trade paperback • 0-385-31204-0

In the Middle of the Night
Dell Laurel-Leaf • 0-440-22686-4

Other Bells for Us to Ring
Dell Laurel-Leaf • 0-440-22862-X

The Rag and Bone Shop
Delacorte Press • 0-385-77962-6
Delacorte Press reinforced library binding • 0-385-90027-9
Dell Laurel-Leaf • 0-440-22971-5

Tenderness
Delacorte Press trade paperback • 0-385-73133-7
Dell Laurel-Leaf • 0-440-22034-3

Tunes for Bears to Dance To
Dell Laurel-Leaf • 0-440-21903-5

We All Fall Down
Dell Laurel-Leaf • 0-440-21556-0


Prepared by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville.

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