John Sulkey, a Trinity senior, mentally makes a list of everyone in his family and neighborhood he can count on to buy chocolates. Last year, Sulkey won the prize for selling the most tickets in a school raffle, and now he wants to excel in the chocolate sale as well in order to win the admiration of his parents and the Brothers at Trinity alike. Despite the higher quota this year, Sulkey is confident in his ability to make good on the sales and come out on top. He continues plotting his sales plan, knowing that though it won’t always be fun, he’ll do anything “for the sake of Service To The School.”
In this chapter and the chapters that follow, Cormier will show how tertiary characters—average Trinity boys—feel about the chocolate sale. Their feelings range from spirited and excited to glum to even rebellious, and as Jerry’s influence spreads throughout the school, even students like John Sulkey, who would do anything for Trinity, are tested.
Brother Leon calls roll again, asking each student to answer to his name with how many boxes of chocolate he has sold so far. Some have only sold one or two, but some have sold as many as ten already. It is the fourth day of the sale, and The Goober waits tensely for Jerry’s name to be called, knowing that Jerry will refuse the chocolates again, as he has each day this week. After Jerry’s “No,” The Goober watches Brother Leon’s hand begin to tremble.
Though Brother Leon congratulates those who have been participating in the sale and feigns excitement, beneath the surface, The Goober can see a furious chaos overtaking Leon not just psychologically but physically as well.
A student named Tubs Casper scurries through his neighborhood, lugging his chocolates door to door. He has only sold three boxes, and is worried about not being able to sell any more this evening. He is obsessed with making money—he needs to be able to take his girlfriend out to the movies. She is a nice, beautiful girl, and Tubs—an overweight, average boy—worries about losing her affections. He is using the chocolate sale as a way of earning money for himself so that he can buy his girlfriend a bracelet that costs nearly twenty dollars.
Tubs Casper is excited about the sale, but for personal reasons; he does not feel motivated by school spirit to sell the chocolates, and is instead spurred on by the idea of being able to bring himself closer to his girlfriend by bringing her a gift. Cormier shows how even individualistic desire, when applied to a group goal, allows traditions to carry on and even grow and spread.
Paul Consalvo is not having much luck with the chocolate sale either, and has not sold a single box all afternoon. He has been focusing on selling within tenement buildings—though the buildings smell awful, one can visit many households in quick succession.
Some students are having poor luck with the chocolate sale, and are growing frustrated by the seemingly outdated tradition requiring students to put themselves in undesirable situations in pursuit of an obscure goal.
Brian Cochran has been chosen by Brother Leon for the position of Treasurer of the Chocolate Sale. Brian hates the job, as he “lives in fear of Brother Leon.” Leon makes him uncomfortable; the man’s unpredictability unsettles Brian. Now, as Brian tallies the sales totals and double-checks them, he finds that there is a discrepancy between chocolates reported as sold and money received. This is normal—many students hold onto the money they get from the sales until the last minute, using the revenue as a kind of “loan” to go out on a big date or buy themselves something special. This year, though, Brother Leon is obsessed with how much money is coming in—every dollar is treated as “a matter of life and death.”
Brian Cochran has uneasily taken the job of treasurer—not out of any real desire to do so, but out of fear of Brother Leon’s strange power. Brian Cochran is nervous from the get-go, seeing how committed Brother Leon is to the sale, nearly to the point of mania. Brian is under a lot of pressure, and is being tightly controlled by the worried Leon.
Brother Leon treats Brian’s daily tallies and reports as major events; Brian has never seen Leon so edgy or nervous. Today, Brian is especially concerned, as Leon has released a false sales report to all the home rooms. Leon reported total sales at over 4,500 boxes, when really fewer than 4,000 have been sold and fewer than 3,000 have been paid for. Brian figures that Leon probably wants to hype the sale up, and goes on tallying as best he can. When he comes to Jerry Renault’s name and sees a zero beside it, he is shocked; he wonders who would ever want to go against Brother Leon.
Brian knows that Leon is not just odd—he is sneaky, underhanded, and will stop at nothing to ensure the chocolate sale goes off without a hitch. Brian’s astonishment over Jerry’s refusal to participate demonstrates just how tight a hold Leon has on much of the student body; the idea of going against the man is actually frightening to Brian, and surely to many other Trinity boys as well.