An Analytical Essay on The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
This essay will analyze the emotions of courage, hatred, and senselessness from the novel The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. By evaluating these emotions displayed by the main character, Jerry Renault, we can learn if they benefited him during his high school years. Courage was reflected in The Chocolate War when Jerry opted not to participate in Trinity Schools annual chocolate fundraiser. Courage would prove to be one of his fundamental emotions displayed in this novel. Jerry stood up to the Trinity School bullies by telling them he would not sell a single box of chocolates no matter what they said or did to him. When Leon (Jerrys teacher) was determining who was participating in the annual fundraiser and called upon Jerry, the following conversation took place.
The silence continued.
The Goober glanced toward Jerry three desks away. Jerry sat stiffly, elbows resting on the desk, staring straight ahead, as if he were in a trance.
You are here, arent you, Renault? Leon asked, trying to turn the moment into a joke. But his effort had the opposite effect. No one laughed.
Last call, Renault.
No, Jerry said.
The Goober wasnt sure if hed heard correctly. Jerry had spoken so quietly, barely moving his lips, that his answer had been indistinct even in that utter quiet. (Cormier, p. 83-84)
I believe that it takes guts to be the only one in the whole school that says no to the chocolate selling fundraiser. You never know if what he did will pay off in the long run.
Another emotion expressed by Jerry was hatred. Some of the people that experienced this hatred were The Vigils(a school society), and a kid always looking for trouble, Emile Janza. Jerry felt hatred for both the Vigils and Emile because they always picked on everybody in sight. Emile often sat by the school hall entrance and tried to antagonize students with mean words hoping that it would turn into something mischievous. Jerry heard rumors that The Vigils were interfering with the chocolate fundraiser. He noticed The Vigils whispering to people in the hallways, making threats, and taking off after school with boxes of chocolates in their cars. Developing this hatred towards The Vigils ultimately might not have been in his best interest. One assignment that the Vigils commanded the Goober to do was, loosen every nut and bolt on all of the chairs and desks so that when people would sit down in them, they would collapse. (Cormier, p. 34). This caused Jerry to become extremely frustrated because if the Goober were to get caught, The Vigils would not get in trouble.
The feeling of senselessness also came up in the novel, in that Jerry realized it was not the right decision to refuse to sell chocolates for the schools annual fundraiser. When Jerry first denied participating in selling chocolates, he didnt realize the potential outcome of his decision. He couldnt imagine what The Vigils would ultimately do to him because of his choice. Until one day, there was an announcement over the intercom for every student to go to the athletic field for an assembly. Unbeknownst to Jerry, The Vigils placed an old boxing ring in the stadium that afternoon for a fight between him and Emile Janza.
Want to get even, Renault? Archie goaded.
Strike back? Get revenge? Show them what you think of their goddam chocolates?(Cormier, p. 232)
Jerrys senselessness decision in the end did not benefit him or anyone else. Emile beat Jerry by landing two obliterating punches, one of them striking his jaw and the other striking his groin. Even though Jerry survived, Im not sure the war is what he signed up for.
In conclusion, many various emotions ran through each character in this novel. Well intentioned, Jerry showed courage when he said no to the teacher regarding the annual fundraiser. Also, hatred was felt due to the behavior of the bullies in his school. Lastly, senselessness is also shared as a result of Jerry failing to realize the ramifications of saying no to the mainstream. If you do the right thing, you will most likely get something positive in return.