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Free Study Guide for The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

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The black box

The black box represents that which keeps power in check. This box is appropriate for the world in which Cormier wrote The Chocolate War. The United States Constitution has measures in place to counteract illicit activity. Like the black box, it is a very old check on power. The Nixon/ Watergate scandal resulted in Nixon’s resignation because of the inevitable actions that would have been takes against him because of the actions of those under him.

The chocolates

The chocolates that Leon wants the boys to sell are also from the previous spring--they are Mother’s Day chocolates and he wants the “Mother” ripped off. This is symbolic because it will be over these chocolates, stripped of their “Mother” that Jerry will resolve the conflict of who he wants to become. Motherless, he is no longer a sheltered child


Chocolate War

Robert Cormier

Date Published

Meaning of the Title
The Chocolate War refers to the battle between Trinity School (represented by Brother Leon and The Vigils) and Jerry Renault. It is called the Chocolate War because the school wants Jerry to sell the chocolates and he refuses. The battle really has nothing to do with the chocolates; the real battle over Jerry's refusal to succumb to their authority because he does not believe in their cause. His refusal to sell the chocolates disturbs the universe of Trinity, where the natural order is always directed by Brother Leon and The Vigils.

Trinity School, modern times (circa 1974)

Fiction, Young Adult

Jerry Renault

Archie Costello

The mood, or tone, of this novel is serious, bordering on disturbing.

Point of View
Third person, limited omniscient (the narrator has access to some of the characters’ thoughts, but not all).

The exposition occurs in the first chapter where the reader meets the main character. Jerry Renault is the novel’s main character. He is a high school student and concerned with making the football team. His mother is dead.

The climax takes place in the boxing ring constructed by Archie. Jerry must decide if it is really worth it for him to make such a huge sacrifice for his beliefs

Jerry’s decision to fight Emile leaves him dangerously battered and in need of an ambulance. Jerry tells the Goober it is not worth it and to do whatever they tell you to do. Archie is saved from Brother Jacques’s rebuke by Brother Leon, who says that boys will be boys

Major Theme
The destructive potential of unchecked authority

The black box; the chocolates.


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