The Chocolate War

by

Robert Cormier

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The Chocolate War: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The Goober loves to run. When he runs, he feels beautiful—he forgets about his insecurities and is able to think more sharply. He is having an okay time on the football team, and enjoys playing with Jerry Renault, but it is running he really loves. The Goober isn’t running right now, though—right now he is in Brother Eugene’s classroom, terrified because it is past dark and he knows he is never going to finish the Vigils’ assignment in time. He wishes he could pack his things up and simply run away, but knows there would be dire consequences.
The Goober is trapped in Brother Eugene’s classroom, struggling to complete his difficult and taxing assignment in a race against the clock. The Goober’s love of running—a solitary pursuit in which one’s only master is one’s own strength and speed—shows that he has an individualistic streak, though it is easily quashed by bullies and powerful entities such as the Vigils.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Masculinity, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Tradition Theme Icon
Right at that moment, The Goober hears a noise in a corridor, and after a minute someone whispers his name from the door. A masked figure advances into the classroom, and asks The Goober how he’s doing. The Goober admits he’s having trouble. The masked boy grabs The Goober by the shirt and reminds him of how important the assignment is—“more important than you, me or the school.” For this reason, the boy says, the Vigils are going to help The Goober out. He warns The Goober not to tell anyone else he has received help with his assignment, and The Goober agrees. A group of masked students file into the classroom and begin helping; it takes all of them three more hours to finish the task.
The masked figure—who may or may not be Obie in disguise—had the foresight to realize that the assignment might fail in the hands of just one boy. The Vigils come to help, knowing that the assignment is bigger than any of them—to fail an assignment would be both to break with tradition and to risk exposing the Vigils as weak, vulnerable, and thus prone to defeat or control at the hands of the Brothers or even other students.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Control vs. Chaos Theme Icon
Masculinity, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Tradition Theme Icon