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The Chocolate War

The Chocolate War


by Robert Cormier

The Chocolate War Chapter 9 Summary

  • Jerry lost his mom last spring.
  • He remembers how sad everybody was during her final week.
  • (Flashback to then.)
  • She's home from the hospital, home "to die" (9.1).
  • Sometimes, watching her slipping away, seeing her face wasted and changed is too much for Jerry, and he has to run from her room.
  • He wishes he had his father's strength.
  • When Jerry's mom dies Jerry is "overcome with rage" (9.1), even when he's at his mother's funeral. He and his father are completely isolated from each other at the cemetery.
  • As the service comes to a close, Jerry and his dad are hugging and crying together. The anger fades, but something even more awful is in Jerry now – "emptiness, a yawning cavity like a hole in his chest" (9.1).
  • That moment in the cemetery is the last time Jerry remembers being close with his dad.
  • They sell their house, and Jerry spends the summer on a farm in Canada with his mother's relatives. In August he returns to New England, and he and his dad have a routine – work for his dad, and school and football for Jerry.
  • When he's playing football Jerry feels "a part of something" (9.2). Jerry's not so sure his dad has anything like that at all.
  • (End flashback.)
  • Jerry has just come home from school. His dad works nights at the pharmacy, and so Jerry isn't surprised to see him napping in a chair.
  • Jerry's starving, but he sits there thinking and watching his father sleep. He's heard that when two people are married, they start to look like each other. He tries to see his mother's face in his father's and is hit with sadness when he does.
  • Suddenly, his dad wakes up.
  • They exchange greetings and polite questions about each other's day.
  • His dad starts talking dinner, tuna casserole courtesy of the housekeeper, Mrs. Hunter.
  • Jerry asks his dad for more details on his days. He wants to know if he ever has really excellent or really horrible days.
  • Well, days at the drug store don't seem to vary much. His dad brings up the time some kid had tried to rob the place with a toy gun.
  • Jerry can't believe that's the extent of the excitement. Is his father's life really that boring and predictable? Is that what happens to people?
  • The thought that this could be his own fate really bothers Jerry.
  • He wonders if he's seeing the whole picture. Maybe there's more to his father.
  • As he dad putters around the kitchen, Jerry starts to ask him something, but stops. He doesn't know what to ask.
  • He remembers something from several years back, when his father worked at a different pharmacy.
  • (Mini-flashback alert.)
  • Jerry is in the pharmacy when and an elderly man comes in to consult with his dad about a physical problem.
  • As Jerry watches his father listen patiently to the man, recommending treatment, his dad seems just like a doctor.
  • After the man leaves, Jerry asks his dad if he ever considered becoming a physician. His father denies it, acting like he's never thought about it before. But Jerry doesn't really believe him and tries to push. His dad evades all his questions, and Jerry drops the topic, permanently.
  • (End flashback.)
  • Now when Jerry looks at his father in the kitchen he sees something very far off from a doctor; he sees a broken man with a dead wife and a son "full of doubts about him" (9.30). A man with a bland, dull life.
  • It makes Jerry sad.
  • That night, looking in the mirror, Jerry tries to see his father in his face, the way he'd seen his mother in his father's face. The idea that he could "be a mirror of his father" isn't a nice one. Jerry wants more.
  • Maybe football is the answer.
  • But what does it really mean to be part of a football team?
  • Jerry isn't sure why, but his mind wanders to Gregory Bailey. (See Chapter 6)

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