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Chocolate War By Cormier Essay Research Paper

Chocolate War By Cormier Essay, Research Paper " Do I dare disturb the universe"(172). With these words Robert Cormier clearly shows his purpose for writing The Chocolate War. He writes it to

Chocolate War By Cormier Essay, Research Paper

" Do I dare disturb the universe"(172). With these words Robert

Cormier clearly shows his purpose for writing The Chocolate War. He writes it to

give insight into the consequences of standing up for what you believe in.

Through his portrayal of characters, and plot, Robert Cormier achieves his

purpose. Cormier shows what happens to Jerry Renault and his protagonist Archie

Costello. Through The Chocolate War Robert Cormier clearly shows his feelings

towards conformity and the abuse of power. The Chocolate War focuses on a

freshmen named Jerry Renault, and his problems at Trinity. Trinity is a

prestigious school run by Brother Leon, the school headmaster. Brother Leon runs

a school chocolate sale every year in the fall and it usually lasts about two

months. The vigils are a secret group at Trinity led by Archie Costello. When

Jerry refuses to participate in the school chocolate sale the Vigils take

offense. As a result the Vigils psychologically and physically destroy Jerry

Renault. Because of Jerry’s refusal to conform he gets beaten by the school

bully. Robert Cormier shows the consequences of standing up for what you believe

in and his feelings towards conformity through his great use of character and

plot. One way in which Cormier achieves his purpose is through his excellent

portrayal of character. Through the characters of the novel Cormier sets up the

protagonist and the antagonist to make an interesting novel. Cormier’s

description of his characters sets up a vivid image of the character and also

helps the reader to identify with the character. The main character in The

Chocolate War is Jerry Renault. Jerry is the unfortunate young adult who suffers

the consequences of standing up for what he believes in. Every morning Brother

Leon would read the roll call off and every morning Jerry would reply

"NO"(67). Cormier uses Jerry as the victim of the story, who gets

harassed over and over again. He is described as "Poor Renault"(86).

Cormier makes the reader feel sympathy for Jerry Renault and makes it so the

reader can identify with the suffering that Jerry is being confronted with. We

are made aware that Jerry’s Constant refusal to conform gets him nothing but

trouble. Through Jerry, Cormier portrays his feelings towards standing up for

what you believe in and the consequences of what you might suffer to do that.

Perhaps the most insidious and evil character of them all is Archie Costello.

Archie is the assigner of the vigils and was considered very powerful. He plays

mind games with people instead of using physical means. People say " keep

Archie happy, when Archie’s happy, we’re all happy"(14). Cormier uses

Archie as the antagonist of the story. Archie gloats on his reputation and

abuses his power at Trinity. He sometimes stays up all night thinking up

assignments. "Archie has influence" which he could use over the school

and against Jerry Renault(26). Cormier uses Archie Costello as the cause of

Jerry Renault’s suffering for standing up for what he believes in. Another

character in The Chocolate War who makes Jerry suffer is Brother Leon. Brother

Leon abuses his power as the headmaster of the school. Brother Leon is running

the school chocolate sale and will do anything to ensure it’s success. Brother

Leon invested a large sum of money in the chocolates and feels this is the only

way for the school to make money. To ensure it’s success Brother Leon asks the

Vigils to help " By getting behind the sale"(25). Brother Leon finally

convinces Archie Costello to get the Vigils to help. Archie says " The

vigils will help"(27). Robert Cormier does an excellent job of using

character to show his purpose for writing The Chocolate War. He uses very

realistic characters that are very easy to relate with especially easy for teen

readers. Cormier’s books are very stirring, "…probably because his novels

are among the relatively few that combine a frank examination of the values and

decisions that trouble adolescents…"(256) Another way Cormier achieves

his purpose is through plot. Cormier makes the plot so the reader can identify

with what is happening. Cormier uses the plot to show the consequences of

standing up for what you believe in and to show his feelings towards conformity.

Cormier also uses vivid detail throughout the plot to let the reader know what

is happening. The plot of The Chocolate War is centered around a boy named Jerry

Renault. Jerry is attending his first year at Trinity Prep. High School. His

first year becomes a horrible year for him. One incident that gives insight into

the consequences of standing up for what you believe in was during football

practice. "Come on Renault, get up", is all Jerry hears after being

struck blow by blow from his teammates(138). Cormier uses this incident to show

what is beginning to happen to Jerry when he stands up for what he believes in.

Jerry begins to wonder and asks himself " Do I dare disturb the

universe"(138). The next incident which shows Jerry’s suffering is the

phone calls at his home. When Jerry gets home from football that night the phone

is ringing as he walks in. "Hello, who is this", and then nothing,

just silence(139). Then again at eleven o’clock, no response again. Jerry begins

to get angry and says "Who is this, is this some creep? Some flaky nut?

Some stupid Jerk?"(139). Cormier shows how Jerry is starting to get

psychologically harassed and how he is suffering for taking a stand and not

selling the chocolates like he was supposed to. "That you’re a fairy. A

queer. Living in the closet, hiding away"(153). Jerry finds himself being

confronted by the school bully and being made fun of, and being called a queer.

The words from Emile Janza’s mouth still hanging in the air enraging Jerry

Renault. Robert Cormier uses this incident to show Renault’s first incident of

physical suffering for not selling his chocolates. "A dozen fists pummeled

his body, fingernails tore at his chest"(154). Jerry was beaten to a pulp

right there outside the school by six kids. Jerry Renault begins to wonder if he

really does dare disturb the universe. Perhaps the most brutal incident in the

novel takes place near the end. "…and the kid whose written blow is the

one that ends the fight, either by knockout or surrender, receives the

prize…"(179). As Carter explains the rules of this shocking event the

crowd yells and cheers. Jerry and Emile stand there in the boxing ring out on

the football field waiting for the first move to be called. Robert Cormier uses

this event as his main example of the suffering Jerry’s peers inflict on him.

"Janza, low blow to the groin"(185). The call that ended it all. Jerry

blocks the punch and then Emile beats him to a pulp right there. Jerry finally

realizes what has happened and why: "Don’t disturb the universe, Goober, no

matter what the posters say"(187). This clearly shows Cormier’s feelings

towards conformity and standing up for what you believe in. The plot of The

Chocolate War causes a strong feeling of sympathy from the reader. The events

that occur in the plot of the novel are very shocking. Cormier does an excellent

job of using plot to show his feelings towards standing up for what you believe

in and the consequences that may occur from it. Critic Paul Ettenson states that

"Cormier’s work portrays adolescents who confront evil"(256). Robert

Cormier’s purpose for writing The Chocolate War is to give insight into the

consequences of standing up for what you believe in. Cormier definitely achieves

his purpose in writing this novel. According to Paul Ettenson "No other

writer in young adult fiction has stirred up more controversy"(256). Most

of Cormier’s novels definitely appeal to the teen reader because they are easy

to identify with. I think that most young adults will enjoy this novel. I also

feel it will equally be enjoyed by the adult reader because of Cormier’s

universality and his readability by all audiences. Cormier does this "with,

intense conflict, suspense, and unpredictable developments in plot and

character", states critic Paul Ettenson(256). Robert Cormier definitely

achieves his purpose in writing The Chocolate War through his excellent use of

plot and character.

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