The Chocolate War


Robert Cormier

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The Chocolate War: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Archie watches as a boy named Emile Janza siphons gas from a classmate’s car. Archie asks Emile what he would do if he were caught, but Emile just smiles. Even Archie knows that no one would defy Emile Janza—Emile is, despite his ordinary stature, a true brute. He harasses teachers and students alike, preying upon the fact that most people want to avoid trouble and confrontation at any cost, and more often than not simply let Janza get his way.
This introduction to Emile Janza shows him to be reckless and pompous—he is coasting through school on the strength of his reputation as a bully, and enjoying the psychological and physical power he has over his classmates and the authorities that govern the school.
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Archie tells Emile that he is a “beautiful” person for doing something so bold and reckless in broad daylight, and then begins to walk away. As he does, Emile asks Archie about “the picture.” Archie feigns ignorance at first, but then slyly notes that the picture is “beautiful,” too. Archie leaves, knowing that things like the picture are “money in the bank” against “animals” like Janza. Emile watches Archie go, dreaming that someday he, too, will be a member of the Vigils.
Though Archie and Emile appear to have a friendly interaction, there is tension and distrust simmering below the surface. Archie is clearly blackmailing Emile—though he thinks Emile’s way of doing things is “beautiful,” he is self-aware enough to see that underneath it all Emile is an “animal” who would stop at nothing to get what he wants. Emile, desperate to become a Vigil, will do whatever Archie tells him—both to save himself from whatever the “picture” threatens to reveal, and to suck up to Archie in hopes of one day being inducted into the school’s secret society.
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