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The Chocolate War

The Chocolate War

by Robert Cormier

Manipulation Theme

The Chocolate War looks at how violence, authority, and speech are used to manipulate the students of Trinity into doing things they don't want to do. Blackmail, extortion, psychological games, physical punishment – these are part of the curriculum at this school. When Jerry tries to cut through the manipulation by making his own choices, other students start to follow his lead. Since this threatens the power structure at Trinity, those in danger of losing their power (Brother Leon and The Vigils) unleash their most devastating tools of manipulation. The novel also looks at how with the right spin, something that everybody thinks sucks, like selling chocolates, can be transformed into the latest craze.

Questions About Manipulation

  1. Is Jerry manipulative? Why or why not?
  2. Who is the most manipulative character? The least?
  3. Who is the most easily manipulated? The least?
  4. What are some of the tools used to manipulate Trinity students? Who uses them?
  5. Does anybody manipulate Archie? Brother Leon?
  6. Compare and contrast Archie and Emile's techniques of manipulation.

Chew on This

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

Archie and Emile Janza might seem to have different methods, but there is really very little difference.

Without physical violence, Brother Leon, Emile Janza, and The Vigils wouldn't be able to manipulate anybody.

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