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Free Study Guide for The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

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STUDY GUIDE / SUMMARY - THE CHOCOLATE WAR BY ROBERT CORMIER

CHAPTERS 35 - 39

Summary

These chapters are combined. In chapter 35, Archie has erected an old boxing ring on the football field. He had Caroni, who looks like a choir boy, ask the brothers for permission for a students-only football rally. Archie called Jerry and asked him if he would like a chance to get even with Janza; Jerry agreed to come. Archie sells raffle tickets to the students.

Jerry and Emile don boxing gloves and wear only shorts. They agree to the bizarre rules because they have no choice.

In chapter 36, it turns out that Archie is selling raffle tickets for the chance to win a hundred dollars and fifty boxes of chocolates. Each kid that buys a ticket gets to select a move in the fight: he gets to write how he wants Jerry or Emile to hit the other. Archie tells Carter this all worked so well because people are only two things: greedy and cruel.

As Carter silences the crowd to begin the evening, Obie enters the ring with the black box. Obie has decided that it is only fair that Archie choose two marbles--one for Jerry and one for Emile. Archie is shocked. Archie chooses two white marbles--he is safe.

In chapter 37, the Goober makes his way to the fight. He has been in bed sick for three days. We find out that the way the raffle works is the kid who wrote the winning blow (the one that results in either a knock out or surrender) wins the raffle.


The fight begins. Each guy follows the instructions as read. Carter mistakenly reads a card without pausing that says for Emile to give Jerry a low blow to the groin. Emile reacts without thinking. Jerry tries to defend himself and the crowd goes wild. Emile and Jerry then begin to fight freely.

The scene grows entirely out of control. As Jerry is being pulverized he is sickened by the idea that he is becoming another animal. He is not disturbing the universe; he is destroying it.

The lights go out, but not before Obie catches a glimpse of Brother Leon, who has been watching the entire scene. When Archie goes to check the cause of the power failure, he meets Brother Jacques. Jacques says that Archie must be the villain

In chapter 38, the Goober holds Jerry, telling him it will be alright. Jerry’s mind races with things he wants to tell the Goob: to play football, to sell the chocolates, to do whatever they say, do not try to disturb the universe.

Brother Jacques asks Archie what he did to Jerry. As Jacques yells at Archie for causing such a terrible incident, Archie is bored. Leon comes in and tells Jacques that boys will be boys. Jacques stalks away, angrily.

In chapter 39, Archie and Obie sit in the stadium as it is being cleaned up. Obie tells Archie that he will get his one day. That maybe the black box will work, or he’ll meet another kid like Reynolds.

Notes (CHAPTERs 35-39)

These chapters can be discussed together because they comprise the climax and outcome of the novel. Many times a writer will create a grand and dramatic scene to mirror the importance of the climax. In The Chocolate War, Cormier gives us such a scene: the boxing ring. This is an appropriate location for the climax since the majority of this novel has considered Jerry’s war, which has been internal. Slowly, Jerry has had to physically defend his beliefs (in class, and against Emile Janza). Now, Jerry must defend himself physically with an outward battle.

The interesting thing about the outcome of this novel is that the good guy (Jerry) loses - he is defeated and tells The Goober not to stand up for himself. Jerry says that he has become another animal; he is no longer disturbing the universe as he wished, he is destroying it. The bad guy wins (Archie). Archie gets in no trouble. However, the reader should consider that the outcome of this novel does not go beyond the immediate result of the boxing match. When we consider Jerry and Archie more closely we should realize that Archie will probably spend the rest of his life running from the black box and from people like Jerry Renault who will fight for what they believe. It may appear that Archie is in control, yet really he is controlled by Leon (who has power over his grades). Jerry, conversely, appears defeated at the end of the fight. However, it is doubtful that someone who has gone so far and fought so diligently will remain defeated.

 

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