The Chocolate War

by

Robert Cormier

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The Chocolate War: Chapter 31 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As Jerry is leaving school, he hears a voice ask him what his hurry is. Several feet ahead of him, he sees Emile Janza. Janza begins taunting Jerry, and though Jerry attempts to deflect Janza’s questions, he knows that what he says doesn’t matter—Janza is looking for an opening, and he will find it; guys like him always do.
At just the sight of Janza, Jerry knows he is in trouble. He is wise enough now to realize what is happening to him, and to see that there is no way to escape the carefully-orchestrated, meticulously-controlled assaults against him.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Control vs. Chaos Theme Icon
Masculinity, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Jerry is tired—he has just come from a terrible football practice, and does not want to deal with Janza. Nevertheless, when Janza accuses Jerry of being a “wise guy,” Jerry asks why Janza thinks that of him. Janza replies that though Jerry puts on a “sincerity act,” he is not fooling Janza. Jerry, Janza says, lives in the closet. When Jerry asks Janza what he means, Janza touches Jerry’s cheek and accuses Jerry of hiding the “deep dark secret” that he is a “fairy” and a “queer.”
Jerry does not want to rise to Janza’s taunts—he knows they are designed to make him angry, and that every aspect of this interaction is being controlled by someone else. Still, when Janza accuses Jerry of being homosexual, the nature of the interaction changes—this is a new kind of assault—one on his fragile, burgeoning masculinity—that Jerry may not be able to stand.
Themes
Control vs. Chaos Theme Icon
Masculinity, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Jerry does not respond, and Janza teases him for blushing. Janza accuses Jerry of polluting Trinity—not just by refusing to sell chocolates, but by spreading deviant homosexuality throughout the school. Jerry at last speaks up, shouting that he isn’t a fairy, and calling Janza a son of a bitch. Jerry realizes he has walked right into Janza’s trap. Janza begins laughing, and then summons five or six other boys from the nearby bushes and shrubbery. Before Jerry can defend himself or run away, the boys mob him and beat him to the ground until he throws up; only then do they withdraw in disgust.
Jerry knows that he is rising to Janza’s insults against his better judgement, but once he has spoken out, he begins leaning into the inevitable. What he does not know is that he is not facing Janza alone—and once the others begin attacking Jerry, he is rendered totally vulnerable and powerless against their assault, and, by proxy, the assault of the Vigils.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Control vs. Chaos Theme Icon
Masculinity, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Tradition Theme Icon
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