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.
"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
1. .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?
2. 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? 3 Why do you think Archie is repulsed by human sweat? What do you think this says about Archie as a person? 4. 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? 5. Discuss the significance of the title. Why is it a chocolate "war"? 6. 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? 7. 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?
Cormier's writing is unique in its richness and power, and he has often been called the finest young adult novelist in America today. His books are brilliant and complex structures full of intricate wordplay and subtle thought. 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.