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Themes

The Chocolate War looks at how physical, verbal, and psychological violence are blended together to create the seriously unhealthy environment at Trinity high school. Be warned: there is lots of violence in this book. For about half of the novel, the physical violence is pretty tame, though there's plenty of twisted mind games and verbal violence along the way. When the novel's hero, Jerry Renault, refuses to sell the chocolates for a school fundraiser, though, all hell breaks lose. The novel ends in a frenzy of violence and bloodlust, from which Jerry might never recover.

Questions About Violence

  1. How would you compare and contrast the various forms of violence in the novel (i.e. physical, psychological, destruction of property, etc.)?
  2. What are the psychological implications of physical violence? In terms of the victims? The victimizers?
  3. How would you analyze Brother Leon's use of the pointer in the class? Would he be effective in dominating his students without it?
  4. Have you experienced violence in school? Do you think the violence shown in this book is realistic?
  5. Have you ever felt pressured into committing a violent act? If so, why did you succumb, or how did you resist? What were the consequences of either choice?
  6. Do Archie, Emile Janza, and Brother Leon bully because they were bullied? Why, or why not? If not, why do they do it? Does the book give us any clues?

Chew on This

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

The bullying problem is so huge at Trinity because Brother Leon is teaching kids how to bully, and encouraging them to practice what they've learned.

The students at Trinity are being educated to victimize others when they go out into the real world.

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