The Chocolate War


Robert Cormier

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The Chocolate War: Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

On the way to the bus stop on a no-practice afternoon, The Goober tells Jerry that he’s going to quit the football team. Jerry asks why, but rather than answer Jerry’s question, The Goober suggests the boys run the rest of the way to the stop. As they run, Jerry demands to know why The Goober is quitting. The Goober at last asks Jerry if he has heard what happened to Brother Eugene. Jerry answers that the Brother was transferred. The Goober counters that Brother Eugene is actually out on sick leave—according to rumor, he hasn’t been himself since the day of The Goober’s assignment.
In a moment of intense discomfort, The Goober seeks comfort in the one thing he still loves—running. The Goober is clearly deeply perturbed by his role in Brother Eugene’s disappearance from the school, and cannot shake the guilt he feels. The Goober is an individualist like Jerry, but also seems to be a more sensitive character, who tries to avoid trouble altogether rather than enduring it.
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Jerry, winded, stops running and asks The Goober what Brother Eugene has to do with football. The Goober answers that there is something “more than rotten” at Trinity—something “evil.” He then refuses to elaborate, saying that his choice to quit football is “personal.” Jerry, now truly concerned, asks The Goober what the matter is. The Goober answers that the school does terrible things to its students, breaks them down, and tortures them. The Goober points out that Jerry, too, is suffering due to his refusal to participate in the chocolate sale. Jerry insists that “it’s all a game,” but The Goober believes that there is something more sinister at work. He begs Jerry to sell the chocolates; Jerry asks The Goober to stay on the football team. The Goober insists he’s not giving anything else to Trinity.
The Goober’s distaste for Trinity goes deeper than shame over his own actions—The Goober realizes that the way Trinity functions is through cruelty and coercion, and that Trinity boys become inured to both physical and psychological violence as their educations there continue. The Goober does not want to be a part of it any more—he attempts to warn Jerry of the discord and corruption he senses, but Jerry is still convinced that his rebellion is a small and inconsequential “game.” The Goober is not going to give into Trinity’s controlling mechanisms any more, even if he can’t convince Jerry to do the same.
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