The Chocolate War

by

Robert Cormier

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The Chocolate War: Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
That night in bed, Jerry himself is still completely uncertain as to what made him say “No” despite his assignment having ended; he interrogates himself, beating himself up for being so stupid. He feels sick and sweaty, and is unable to find the answer within his own mind as to why he refused the chocolates. He had been planning to accept them, ready for the embarrassing assignment to end and for life to go back to normal. He has dreaded facing Brother Leon each morning, and was looking forward to being able to see his teacher, who has been eyeing him with hatred for nearly two weeks, as a normal man again.
Jerry himself is also blindsided by his decision to continue refusing to sell the chocolates. Clearly, the novel has been building to this decision; Jerry’s fear of becoming a square, following mindless routines, and becoming just another cog in the Trinity machine has been palpable since the novel’s early pages. Jerry, however, seems surprised by his own impulses, and is clearly not in touch with the motivating factors in his decision to make himself an outcast for the sake of preserving his individuality.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Control vs. Chaos Theme Icon
Masculinity, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Tradition Theme Icon
Jerry tries to settle down in bed and fall asleep. He worries that he is, like his father, sleeping his life away, fulfilling the prediction of the hippie in the Common, and “missing a lot of things in the world.” Jerry tries to dismiss the voices in his head and summons an image of a pretty girl he saw downtown earlier in the week. He reaches into his underwear to masturbate, but finds that he cannot get aroused.
In spite of having stood up to Brother Leon and the Vigils, Jerry still worries that he is in danger of missing out on life. He is so preoccupied by the drama at school that he cannot focus on himself or his own desires. He wants to be in control of his destiny, but in fact is being controlled by the repercussions of his choices.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Control vs. Chaos Theme Icon
Masculinity, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Tradition Theme Icon