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The Chocolate War
by Robert Cormier
The Chocolate War Chapter 31 Summary
Jerry's hears someone say, "What's your hurry, kid?" (31.1) and he feels like he's a little kid again facing schoolyard and summer camp bullies. He's face to face with Emile Janza. Emile wants Jerry to answer his question, and Jerry tries to keep Emile talking as long as he can. He'd been rescued from a bully once when he was a little kid. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any potential rescuers around this time. Jerry's day was already crummy. Football practice was all abuse. Since The Goober left the team, he has no allies. The coach doesn't do anything to help. He'd run into Emile Janza while walking back from the field to the gym. Now Emile's telling Jerry that he knows Jerry is "in the closet" (31.19). Jerry doesn't know what he means. Emile laughs, and Jerry knows the guy is trying to provoke Jerry so he'll attack first. That way, Emile can claim self defense when he beats up Jerry. Standard bully operating procedure. Jerry doesn't want Emile to pull his strings that way. He doesn't want to be forced into fighting. Emile begins explain what he means by "in the closet." He says Jerry is "a fairy. A queer. Living in the closet. Hiding away" (31.25). Jerry feels sick to his stomach and his face gets red. He thinks this is, "The worst thing in the world – to be called queer" (31.29). Emile suggests that Jerry's refusal to sell chocolates, and his supposedly being gay, are somehow connected. He says Jerry must be in heaven in an all boy's school. Jerry tells Emile he isn't gay. Emile asks for a kiss. Jerry calls Emile a "son of a bitch" (31.32), which Emile finds quite amusing. It's around this time that Jerry notices that Emile isn't alone. About ten guys are lurking around in the bushes and coming toward Jerry menacingly. All of a sudden, they are on him, smashing him with their fists. They claw his face and eyes, and kick every square inch of his body. He throws up, and they run off, except for one guy who wants to get some final kicks in. Then Jerry passes out.
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