The Chocolate War
by Robert Cormier
The Chocolate War Chapter 21 Summary
- Kevin Chartier is selling chocolates after school. Actually, he's trying to sell, but nobody's buying.
- On his way home, he gets chased by a dog.
- Now he's home, talking on the phone to his friend Danny Arcangelo.
- Danny isn't having luck either – he sold a single box, to his diabetic aunt.
- Soon, the conversation turns to Jerry Renault and his continued refusal to sell the chocolates.
- Danny says he thought it was just an assignment from The Vigils. Kevin says that's how it began, but now the assignment is over.
- Kevin is kind of trying out for The Vigils; next year when he's a junior, he'll probably get in. Since there are strict secrecy rules, he can't talk about Vigil information with Danny. It's not that he doesn't trust him, but he's afraid Danny might unintentionally say something to somebody.
- This time, Kevin doesn't know anything else, so it's all good.
- Kevin and Danny agree that selling chocolates really sucks, and they wish they didn't have to do it anymore.
- Howie Anderson and Richy Rondell are also talking about Jerry and the chocolates.
- Howie, watching a pretty girl on the sidewalk, tells Richy that he's going to follow Jerry's example and stop selling chocolates.
- Richy's watching the girl too, and it takes him a minute to hear what Howie said. He's surprised. Jerry's just a silly freshman with no influence, but Howie Anderson is brainy, tough, and on the football team. He does have influence.
- Howie explains that, "It's the principle of the thing" (21.25). See, they pay tuition and shouldn't have to sell things – they should be studying and getting an education instead. Until Jerry, Howie never considered simply refusing. He loves it.
- Richy decides he won't sell chocolates either, and asks Howie if they should organize other kids to say no as well. Howie vetoes that idea. He says, "This is the age of do your own thing. Let everybody do his thing. If a kid wants to sell, let him. If he doesn't, the same thing applies" (21.33).
- Archie is in the gym, and it smells horrible. His dislike of the smell of "the secretions of the human body, pee or perspiration" (21.34) is part of why he avoids physical sports.
- He's here waiting for Obie, who had cryptically summoned him. Since Obie knows Archie hates the smell of the gym, Archie takes Obie's lateness as a sign of his hatred for Archie.
- Archie likes to be despised.
- Obie's hate keeps Archie from feeling guilty when he torments him.
- But, Archie is more than irritated with Obie right now. Suddenly he feels the weight of his pressures.
- Being The Assigner for The Vigils is a never-ending chore; new assignments are constantly required, and sometimes he just doesn't have any ideas.
- Plus, his grades are really bad, and he has to spend all his extra time trying to bring them up. He doesn't even have time to go hang around at the girls' high school waiting to give girls rides home.
- Soon, Obie shows up.
- He tells Archie that Jerry is still refusing the chocolates, even though he completed his assignment for The Vigils.
- Archie doesn't seem the slightest bit disturbed by the information, so Obie tries to put it on perspective. See, some kids think Jerry's still under orders from The Vigils, others that he's trying organize a rebellion. Leon in getting really stressed out.
- Archie likes the sound of all that.
- Obie wants to know what The Vigils should do about it. Archie says it has nothing to do with The Vigils.
- Obie begs to differ, saying that since it's common knowledge that Jerry's assignment is over, people might view this as an act of disrespect against The Vigils. If they let Jerry get away with it, people will think The Vigils are growing soft.
- This gets Archie's attention.
- He tells Obie to summon Jerry, and Obie is satisfied.
- But, he still has one point left to make. He says, "Didn't The Vigils promise Leon way back that they'd back him in the sale?"
- Archie actually looks surprised, much to Obie's satisfaction. Archie tells Obie not to worry about it, and Obie gets up to leave, full of hate for Archie.
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