The Chocolate War
by Robert Cormier
The Chocolate War Theme of Identity
In The Chocolate War, the characters in power (Brother Leon, The Vigils) want all of the students at Trinity to conform, be easily led, and not think for themselves. These characters make the atmosphere really oppressive at Trinity. When the hero of the book, Jerry Renault, goes against the grain and refuses to sell chocolates for the school fundraiser, we see him attempting to create his own identity. Of course, fighting to define who you are isn't always the easiest thing to do, especially when you're in a place as terrible as Trinity.
Questions About Identity
- Are Emile, Archie, and Leon stuck with their identities as victimizers? Could they change? Why, or why not?
- How does the destruction of Room Nineteen impact The Goober's identity? Brother Eugene's? Archie's?
- Why does Emile want to be a Vigil?
- Why does Archie consider Emile an animal? Why does Emile take offense?
- Why does Jerry feel ashamed when he's a victim of violence?
- How does Jerry's relationship with his dad impact his identity? How about his run-in with the hippy/drifter/drop-out guy at the bus stop?
Chew on This
By forcing students to use their talents for dark purposes, Brother Leon is perverting their identities.
Emile is right; he's not an animal. Bullying and manipulation are much more common to humans than to animals.