The Chocolate War

The Chocolate War Chapter 35 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The night of the raffle—“a raffle like no other in any school’s history”—Archie watches as the stadium seats fill up with students. Archie is the architect of the event, and he stands on an improvised stage—and makeshift boxing ring—that the Vigils erected earlier that afternoon. Archie has arranged for no Brothers to be present by passing the event off as a football rally for students only—all of the brothers are a quarter mile away from the field, in their on-campus residence. Archie marvels at his success in manipulating such an event as he looks at Jerry and Janza, standing alone in the boxing ring on the football field.
Archie feels unchallenged power and control as he surveys the historic event he has designed. Having been unable to force Renault to comply with Trinity tradition, Jerry has created a new “tradition” which is in and of itself an innovation—an ordinary raffle that has stakes unlike any Trinity has seen before.
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Archie had called Jerry on the phone and offered him the chance to get revenge on Janza, and on the entire school. Archie framed the event as an endcap to the chocolate sale—a way for Renault to finally move forward. Archie “guarantee[d]” Jerry that after the match, the entire chocolate affair would be over and done with. Now, looking out on the gathered students in the stands, Archie marvels at his own ability to “con anybody.”
Archie successfully manipulated the stressed, worn-down Jerry into competing in a dangerous tournament. The psychological violence Archie has been enacting upon Jerry for weeks has taken its toll, and Jerry was deeply susceptible to Archie’s “con.”
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Even Obie has to admit that Archie has pulled something amazing off. Obie looks at Jerry in the center of the ring and thinks he looks like a “poor dumb doomed kid.” Obie knows that Jerry can’t win against Archie—no one can.
For all of Obie’s hatred of Archie, he is—and, throughout the novel, often has been—impressed by the command Archie has over the school. Obie seems at last resigned to Archie’s uncontested power.
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Jerry is nervous as he waits for the match to start. He knows that agreeing to the fight was a mistake, but it is too late to back out now. Worst of all, Jerry realizes that Archie has been counting on Jerry to feel this way—to get so pumped up about revenge that he would submit himself to a humiliating fool’s errand. As Archie explains the rules of the match to both Jerry and Janza, Jerry accepts them. Now is his chance to strike back against Trinity and all the abuse it harbors—including guys like Archie and Janza, who will do horrible things to the world when they leave the walls of Trinity.
Despite Jerry’s bad feeling that he will suffer in the match—and the realization that he has submitted, at last, to Archie’s power—he still thinks that he has a chance to fight back against the power structures that allow rotten, even “evil” boys, to flourish at Trinity and also in the world beyond it. This also shows Cormier gesturing to the world beyond the walls of Trinity, reminding the reader that all tyrannical people start out as children, and surely some of them as children like Archie and Janza.
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Brian Cochran is in charge of selling raffle tickets, and they are selling “like dirty pictures.” Wooed by Archie’s compliments on how well Brian handled the chocolate sale, he allowed himself to be talked into doing the raffle. He knew the premise of the event all along, but is now amazed to see that it is actually coming to fruition.
Brian Cochran is a pawn in Archie’s grab at power, just as he was a pawn in Leon’s. Brian is too afraid of upsetting the status quo to stand up against what he knows is wrong.
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Emile Janza, meanwhile, is tired of being treated like a bad guy. He just likes to get under people’s skin every once in a while, and keep people afraid of him. After Janza realized that Archie’s “picture” had been a fabrication all along, he was talked into the boxing match nonetheless by the chance to get back at Renault—in Archie’s estimation, a “square” who regularly screws things up for people like Archie and Emile. Now, Emile looks across the stage at Jerry, hungry for combat—ready to “wreck Renault” no matter what is written on the raffle tickets. In the back of his mind, he wonders if the infamous picture is real after all.
Emile Janza, for all of his bravado and power, is himself insecure in many ways about many things. He does not want his power contested by people like Jerry, and does not want to anger Archie on the off chance that Archie’s blackmail turns out to be real. Janza’s continued questioning of the picture’s existence, even after Archie admitted it was never real, demonstrates how psychologically manipulative Archie’s mind games truly are.
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