The Chocolate War

by

Robert Cormier

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The Chocolate War: Chapter 34 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Suddenly, Jerry is as invisible as a ghost. Everyone at school ignores him, avoids him, and gives him a wide berth in the hallway. Jerry feels as if he is contaminated with a terrible disease. Jerry tries to say hello to a few classmates, but they merely look through him. When Jerry walks through the halls, it is as if he is Moses parting the Red Sea. When Jerry opens his locker, he finds that the poster and sneakers are gone, and the whole thing has been scrubbed clean.
Compared to the physical and psychological violence Jerry has faced in the last few days, receiving the silent treatment is a welcome reprieve from the assaults that have been coming his way at all hours of the day. Eerily, the damage done to his locker has been cleaned up—as if Jerry doesn’t exist at all anymore. In attempting to erase Jerry from school, the orchestrators of this mass freeze are attempting to erase his influence.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Control vs. Chaos Theme Icon
In his classes, Jerry feels as if his teachers, too, are icing him out. Jerry resigns himself to the freeze, and eventually relaxes into his newfound invisibility—he is tired of being afraid, intimidated, and attacked. Jerry looks everywhere for The Goober, but can’t find him; he doesn’t blame the Goober for wanting to stay home with such chaos going on at school.
Jerry settles into being frozen out by everyone else. Though he longs for The Goober’s company, he himself can admit that things are so bad at school that he’d like to stay home, too.
Themes
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As Jerry walks towards the stairs at lunchtime, he feels himself being suddenly pushed from behind. He begins to fall, but somehow manages to grab the railing. As a group of boys pass him, they laugh, and Jerry knows he is not invisible anymore.
Jerry’s false sense of security is interrupted as if on cue when his schoolmates remind him that the violence will be recurrent and unpredictable.
Themes
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Control vs. Chaos Theme Icon
Masculinity, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Brother Leon enters the office just as Brian Cochran finishes his final tabulation. Brian excitedly announces that the chocolate sale is over—all of the chocolates have been sold, and ninety-eight percent of the money has been turned in. Leon double checks the figures hungrily. Brian speaks up after a moment to admit that he has found something odd in the figures—the total comes to nineteen thousand nine hundred and fifty boxes sold, right on the nose. Usually there is spoilage, or boxes get lost or stolen—but this year, every box minus Jerry’s exact quota is accounted for. Leon slowly explains, as if to a young child, that Jerry’s boxes are the only fifty missing, and Brian realizes that Leon does not want to see the truth—he is only interested in the sales.
Brian Cochran knows that the Vigils have been manipulating the sale in order to point to Jerry’s status as a pariah and even a traitor even more plainly—but when he attempts to raise this concern with Brother Leon, Brian finds that Leon doesn’t care who or what is hurt, damaged, or manipulated as a casualty of the sale. All he cares about, at the end of the day, are securing the numbers and getting himself out of financial hot water.
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Control vs. Chaos Theme Icon
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Leon announces to Brian that the chocolate sale has “disproven a law of nature”—one rotten apple does not spoil the bunch. School spirit has prevailed, Leon says, and Brian wonders if the brother is actually right. Brian thinks briefly that it’s wrong to claim that the school is more important that individuals within it, but gives up this train of thought quickly—he is relieved that the sale is over, and so is his job as treasurer.
Brother Leon reveals that his stake in the chocolate sale is, after all, greater than just his own financial concerns. He also wanted to use the sale, alongside the Vigils, to prove that outsiders, rebels, and iconoclasts have no place at Trinity, and that tradition will always win.
Themes
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Control vs. Chaos Theme Icon
Tradition Theme Icon
Elsewhere in the school, Archie asks Obie if Obie has set the fifty boxes aside—Obie says he has, and asks what they’re for. Archie announces that tomorrow night, on the football field, there is going to be a special assembly—one that is strictly for the student body, and not the Brothers. Obie asks if even Renault will be there, and Archie says that he will—they are giving Jerry one last chance to get rid of his chocolates by raffling them off.
Archie is up to something—he is cooking up a scheme to secure power over the student body once and for all, and bring the chocolate sale to its conclusion in a dramatic show of force and the power of tradition and coercion.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Control vs. Chaos Theme Icon
Tradition Theme Icon