The Chocolate War

by

Robert Cormier

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The Chocolate War: Chapter 39 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Archie and Obie are sitting in the bleachers. Obie realizes that this is where the two of them first saw Jerry Renault, the day they selected him for the chocolate assignment. Obie attempts to reprimand Archie, but Archie insists that Jacques already lectured him—luckily, he was rescued by Leon. Obie calls Leon a “bastard,” and tells Archie that Leon was watching the whole fight from a distance. Archie reveals that it was he who tipped Leon off about the fight—he figured the brother would “enjoy himself.” Obie warns Archie that someday, Archie will get what he deserves.
Obie’s ineffectual resistance against Archie echoes, ironically, Brother Leon’s “demonstration” involving Bailey earlier in the novel. Obie has the power to stand up to Archie and contest the violence he does each day to teachers and students alike, but he is too nervous to take a stand, too afraid of losing his own power, and too mired in tradition to take any real action against Archie.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Control vs. Chaos Theme Icon
Masculinity, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Tradition Theme Icon
Archie tells Obie that he’s going to forget what he and Carter did earlier with the black box. Obie hopes aloud that perhaps, the next time, the black box will work—or maybe another kid like Renault will come along. Archie doesn’t answer, and instead asks what happened to the chocolates. Obie replies that the students raided them in the confusion. Archie is hungry, and asks Obie if he has “a Hershey or anything.” Obie says he doesn’t. The lights go off again, and Obie and Archie sit in silence for a while before making their way home in darkness.
Archie’s strange, unsettling craving for chocolate—a metaphor for his desire for power and control—has not been slaked even by his victory over Jerry and his renewed claim to power over the school. The book’s ending in total darkness represents the darkness that has overtaken Trinity, and which the students will have to feel their way through every day from now on, until something or someone else comes back to hopefully unseat the “rotten” hierarchy at place within the school.
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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