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The Chocolate War

The Chocolate War

by Robert Cormier

Language and Communication Theme

Do you ever say one thing, even though you're feeling something entirely different? Have you ever wanted to say something, but couldn't find the words. Have you ever gotten totally caught up in what a really good speaker was saying and found yourself doing what they want, even though you think it's wrong? If so, you'll probably relate to what's going on in The Chocolate War. This book takes a hard look at how language can be used to manipulate. We also see how one student standing up and saying "No" can threaten a whole corrupt system.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. What kinds of messages does Brother Leon communicate with his pointer? His words? His eyes? His physical appearance?
  2. Are Archie's verbal skills a key factor in his power over others? Why, or why not?
  3. What are some of the things Jerry communicates when he refuses the chocolates? Does it mean different things to different people? Like what?
  4. Is Jerry a good communicator?
  5. Can you think of some examples of characters who think one thing but say something entirely different? Why do they do this?
  6. Why aren't Jerry and Ellen Barrett able to communicate when he calls her? Would they do better face to face?
  7. Do Jerry and his father communicate well with each other?
  8. What would this book look like if it was updated to include the latest in communication technology? You know, Facebook, cell phones, texting, twitter….

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Jerry isn't a good communicator; he rarely says what he means. If he'd been more willing to talk with the other students about why he says "No" to the chocolates, he might have been able to make a real difference at Trinity.

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