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Free Study Guide for The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

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This chapter opens with Archie interrogating a kid called The Goober. Archie makes The Goober call him sir. He is giving him instructions for his assignment: to loosen the screws in a classroom so that the furniture will fall apart when used.

The Vigils have a box, which is Archie’s nemesis. The box contains five white marbles and one black marble. After each assignment is given Archie must blindly choose a marble from the box. If he gets a white one, the assignment stands; if he gets a black one, he must perform the assignment himself. The box is part of the tradition of The Vigils and was instituted long before any of the current members entered the organization. Archie draws a white marble. He believes he is undefeatable.


In this chapter Archie’s character is more fully developed. Archie is a round character; that is a character that is well developed and has the qualities of a real person. Archie is a well-developed character because he is not purely bad. While he is arrogant in his power, he is also disgusted with himself as he makes The Goober call him sir. Although Archie appears to be fully in control, he is afraid of the black box.

We also learn that while Archie is not the president of The Vigils he is much more powerful than Carter (the president). Archie was given the position of The Assigner because he is able to remain two steps ahead of everyone else.



Brother Leon is restlessly walking around the room during one of Jerry’s classes. Jerry is aware that he is about to perform. When there are only ten minutes left in the class room, Leon says “Enough of this crap,” intending to shock the students and calls one of the weak boys, Bailey, to the front of the classroom.

Leon says that strict discipline must be maintained in their school. Although the teachers would love to be one of the boys, they must maintain a line between themselves. As Leon is waving his arms, demonstrating the wind while explaining how it, in its invisible state, is similar to this line between teachers and students--he strikes Bailey on the face with his pointer. He apologizes, though Jerry wonders if it was really an accident. Leon then shocks everyone by asking Bailey why he cheats. Bailey is stunned and says that he does not cheat. Leon says by looking at the evidence--Bailey gets all A's --it appears that he must cheat, unless he is a genius. Leon asks Bailey if he believes he is a genius. Leon, successfully trying to make the class laugh, says that Bailey looks like a genius with his glasses and crazy hair. Leon says that getting all A's implies perfection and that only God is perfect. Leon continues to drill Bailey until someone from the back of the room yells for Leon to leave Bailey alone. The bell rings.

Leon yells for everyone to remain seated. Leon tells the boys they are all poor fools. He says that Bailey was the bravest because he stood up for himself. The rest of the boys let the classroom become Nazi Germany. The feeble protest at the end was too little and too late.


This chapter offers insight into the character of Leon, and develops the theme of unchecked authority. Leon appears calculating and cruel, yet wise. His display regarding the weakness of the class is powerful. However, it is also oddly placed. It is ironic that Leon, someone who enforces discipline and rules is trying to inspire his students to question authority. Furthermore, later in the novel he will try to incite conformity among the students by insisting they sell chocolate.

The Nazi Germany reference furthers the major theme of this novel: the destructive potential of unchecked authority. Similar to Hitler and Germany of the 1930s and 1940s, there are instances of authority figures in this novel that do things that most people do not agree with, yet they are afraid to stand up against such power. Leon is one of these powerful figures.


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