The Chocolate War
by Robert Cormier
The Chocolate War Theme of Morality and Ethics
Morality refers to personal, cultural, and social beliefs about right and wrong. Ethics is the study and practice of these belief systems. Some of the events in The Chocolate War are definitely unethical. We can easily see that Brother Leon, The Vigils, and Emile are unethical people. They will do anything to anybody in order to keep their positions of power. The book also raises some more complicated ideas about morality and ethics. It asks us to think about how we can act to benefit both the individual and the group. It asks us to consider how human emotions, like vengefulness, fear, and pride, can make us do things we think are immoral. It asks us to carefully consider our ethical responsibilities to ourselves and others, and encourages us to think about our own moral codes and how these shape who we are.
Questions About Morality and Ethics
- How might you describe Brother Leon's moral code? What does he think is right? What does he think is wrong? Does he know he's a bad guy? Does he think he's doing the right thing?
- Jerry, The Goober, and David Caroni become very disturbed when they think they've violated their own moral codes. What could they do to make themselves feel better? Are they permanently tainted? Why, or why not?
- Should Archie be punished for his actions? Should Emile? Brother Leon? Carter? If not, why not? If so, what would be fitting punishments? Are there laws against what they do? Were there in the 1970s?
Chew on This
The novel asks us to consider whether it's ethical to take a public stand on any issue like Jerry does, if we don't follow through with other acts.
The Chocolate War argues that the most morally correct actions are those which benefit both the group and the individual.