The Chocolate War

Archie Costello Character Analysis

Archie Costello is the “assigner” of the Vigils, the secret society on-campus at Trinity. Archie is a cruel, sneaky, and power-hungry boy whose ravenous desire for power and control symbolically manifests as an insatiable craving for chocolate. Archie relishes his unique role on campus—as a member of the Vigils, he is already popular and powerful, but as the assigner, he wields complete control over anyone he wishes. To rebuke an assignment—a task, prank, or dare—from the Vigils is unheard of on Trinity’s campus; that is, until Jerry Renault, instructed to refuse to accept his quota for the chocolate sale for ten days and then relent, keeps up with his protest even after the ten days are up. As Jerry emerges as a threat to the Vigils’ control over the school, Archie becomes obsessed with quashing him—and nervous about his ability to remain reliable in the eyes of Brother Leon, the assistant headmaster, with whose combined permission and ignorance Archie can effectively rule the school alone. Archie enjoys enacting psychological rather than physical violence upon his classmates, and loves to make others squirm. Archie is seen as despicable and repellent by almost everyone around him, and yet his unique position within the school forces most others bend to his will.

Archie Costello Quotes in The Chocolate War

The The Chocolate War quotes below are all either spoken by Archie Costello or refer to Archie Costello. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Ember edition of The Chocolate War published in 2004.
Chapter 4 Quotes

“How many boxes?"

“Twenty thousand."

Archie whistled in astonishment. He usually didn't blow his cool that easily, particularly with someone like Brother Leon. But the image of twenty thousand boxes of chocolates being delivered here to Trinity was ridiculous. Then he saw the mustache of moistness on Brother Leon's upper lip, the watery eyes and the dampness on his forehead. Something clicked. This wasn't the calm and deadly Leon who could hold a class in the palm of his hand. This was someone riddled with cracks and crevices. Archie became absolutely still, afraid that the rapid beating of his heart might betray his sudden knowledge, the proof of what he'd always suspected, not only of Brother Leon but most grownups, most adults: they were vulnerable, running scared, open to invasion.

Related Characters: Archie Costello (speaker), Brother Leon (speaker)
Related Symbols: Chocolate
Page Number: 22-23
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Chapter 5 Quotes

He had beaten the black box for three years—could he do it again? Or was his luck running out? Would the law of averages catch up to him? A tremor ran along his arm as he extended his hand toward the box. He hoped no one had noticed. Reaching inside, he grabbed a marble, concealed it in the palm of his hand. He withdrew his hand, held the arm straight out, calmly now, without shiver or tremor. He opened his hand. The marble was white.

The corner of Archie's mouth twitched as the tension of his body relaxed. He had beaten them again. He had won again. I am Archie. I cannot lose.

Related Characters: Archie Costello (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Black Box
Page Number: Book Page 37
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 24 Quotes

"Listen, I think Leon's in deep trouble. There's more than chocolates involved here, Archie."

Archie resented Cochran's familiarity, the use of his name. But he didn't say anything, curious about what the kid had to say.

"I overheard Leon talking with Brother Jacques. Jacques was trying to back him into a corner. He kept mentioning something about Leon abusing his power of attorney. That he’d over-extended the school’s finances. That was his exact word, ‘overextended.’ The chocolates came into it. Something about twenty thousand boxes and Leon paying cash in advance. I didn't hear all of it . . . I got out of there before they could find out I was around . . ."

“So what do you think, Cochran?" Archie asked, although he knew. Leon needed at least twenty thousand dollars to draw even with the school.

"I think Leon bought the chocolates with money that he wasn't supposed to use. Now the sale's going lousy and he's caught in the middle. And Brother Jacques smells a rat…"

Related Characters: Brian Cochran (speaker), Archie Costello, Brother Leon, Brother Jacques
Related Symbols: Chocolate
Page Number: 154-155
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 25 Quotes

Carter blew air out of his mouth in exasperation. He was losing patience with Archie's cat and mouse crap. He had sat here for two years watching Archie play his silly games with kids, having Archie act the big shot as if he ran the show. Carter carried the responsibility for the assignments on his shoulders. As president, he also had to keep the other guys in line, keep them psyched up, ready to help make Archie's assignments work. And Carter wasn't crazy about this chocolate stuff. It was something beyond the control of The Vigils. It involved Brother Leon and he didn't trust Leon as far as he could throw him. Now, he watched the kid Renault, looking as if he was ready to faint with fright, his face pale and eyes wide with dread, and Archie having fun with him. Jesus, Carter hated this psychological crap. He loved boxing where everything was visible—the jabs, the hooks, the roundhouse swings, the glove in the stomach.

Related Characters: Carter (speaker), Jerry Renault, Archie Costello, Brother Leon
Related Symbols: Chocolate
Page Number: 162-163
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 35 Quotes

"What do you say, Renault? Do you accept the rules?"

What could he say? After the phone calls and the beating. After the desecration of his locker. The silent treatment. Pushed downstairs. What they did to Goober, to Brother Eugene. What guys like Archie and Janza did to the school. What they would do to the world when they left Trinity.

Jerry tightened his body in determination. At least this was his chance to strike back, to hit out. Despite the odds Archie had set up with the raffle tickets.

“Okay," Jerry had said.

Related Characters: Jerry Renault (speaker), Archie Costello (speaker), Emile Janza, The Goober, Brother Eugene
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 36 Quotes

“I don't know how you do it, Archie," Carter was forced to admit.

"Simple, Carter, simple." Archie reveled in the moment, basking in Carter's admiration, Carter who had humiliated him at The Vigils meeting. Someday he'd get even with Carter but at the moment it was satisfying enough to have Carter regarding him with awe and envy. "You see, Carter, people are two things: greedy and cruel. So we have a perfect set-up here. The greed part—a kid pays a buck for a chance to win a hundred. Plus fifty boxes of chocolates. The cruel part—watching two guys hitting each other, maybe hurting each other, while they're safe in the bleachers. That's why it works, Carter, because we're all bastards.”

Carter disguised his disgust. Archie repelled him in many ways but most of all by the way he made everybody feel dirty, contaminated, polluted. As if there was no goodness at all in the world. And yet Carter had to admit that he was looking forward to the fight, that he himself had bought not one but two tickets. Did that make him like everybody else—greedy and cruel, as Archie said?

Related Characters: Archie Costello (speaker), Carter (speaker), Jerry Renault, Emile Janza
Related Symbols: Chocolate
Page Number: 231
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 37 Quotes

Triumphantly, he watched Janza floundering on weak, wobbly knees. Jerry turned toward the crowd, seeking—what? Applause? They were booing. Booing him. Shaking his head, trying to reassemble himself, squinting, he saw Archie in the crowd, a grinning, exultant Archie. A new sickness invaded Jerry, the sickness of knowing what he had become, another animal, another beast, another violent person in a violent world, inflicting damage, not disturbing the universe but damaging it. He had allowed Archie to do this to him.

And that crowd out there he had wanted to impress? To prove himself before? Hell, they wanted him to lose, they wanted him killed, for Christ's sake.

Related Characters: Jerry Renault (speaker), Archie Costello, Emile Janza
Page Number: 242
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 39 Quotes

“Maybe the black box will work the next time, Archie," Obie said. “Or maybe another kid like Renault will come along."

Archie didn't bother to answer. Wishful thinking wasn't worth answering. He sniffed the air and yawned. “Hey, Obie, what happened to the chocolates?"

"The guys raided the chocolates in the confusion. As far as the money’s concerned, Brian Cochran has it. We'll have some kind of drawing next week at assembly."

Archie barely listened. He wasn't interested. He was hungry. “You sure all the chocolates are gone, Obie?"

“I'm sure, Archie.”

"You got a Hershey or anything?"

“No.”

The lights went off again. Archie and Obie sat there awhile not saying anything and then made their way out of the place in the darkness.

Related Characters: Archie Costello (speaker), Obie (speaker), Jerry Renault
Related Symbols: Chocolate
Page Number: 252-253
Explanation and Analysis:
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Archie Costello Character Timeline in The Chocolate War

The timeline below shows where the character Archie Costello appears in The Chocolate War. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2 
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...bored. He is always tired lately—and most of all, he is tired of his classmate, Archie Costello. Obie asks Archie to let him leave the bleachers, as he is worried about... (full context)
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Archie gives Obie the name of one of the boys below, and Obie writes it down.... (full context)
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Obie reflects on the lengths he and the other students go to stay on Archie’s good side, buying him Hershey’s to satisfy his chocolate craving and accomplishing other tasks on... (full context)
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 Archie tells Obie that they only need to collect two more names. Obie is surprised they... (full context)
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Archie calls out “The Goober,” and Obie writes down “Roland Goubert.” Archie notes the assignment as... (full context)
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Archie suggests that Jerry needs “therapy,” and orders Obie to write Jerry’s name down. Obie asks... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Brother Leon, the Assistant Headmaster of the school, informs Archie that there are twenty thousand boxes of chocolate to sell in the school’s annual fundraiser... (full context)
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Archie points out that the Trinity boys will be overwhelmed by the doubling of their quota—usually,... (full context)
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Leon asks Archie if he can count on his help. Archie insists that he’s “just one guy,” and... (full context)
Chapter 5
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In a secretive Vigils meeting, Archie gives the freshman known as The Goober his first assignment. Archie outlines the preconditions for... (full context)
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Archie orders The Goober to get his hands on a screwdriver and, next Thursday afternoon, arrange... (full context)
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...the Vigils, Carter, pulls a small black box out of a desk. Inside the box, Archie knows, are six marbles: five white, one black. Someone years before Archie’s time realized that... (full context)
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Archie has always beaten the black box for three years running, but every time he reaches... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Archie watches as a boy named Emile Janza siphons gas from a classmate’s car. Archie asks... (full context)
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Archie tells Emile that he is a “beautiful” person for doing something so bold and reckless... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...student sells his quota of chocolates, the boxes next to each name will be filled. Archie thinks that the assembly has been one of Brother Leon’s “great performances.” (full context)
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...them will easily be able to sell fifty boxes and do his part for Trinity. Archie squirms in his seat, recalling how the Vigils were vexed to hear that Archie had... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Archie stands in the doorway and times how long it takes for the room to completely... (full context)
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Brother Leon appears behind Archie, seizes him by the shoulders, and accuses him angrily of being behind the prank. At... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Emile Janza approaches Archie and asks him if he still has “the picture.” Archie feigns ignorance at first, but... (full context)
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Though the tone of the conversation is light and teasing, Archie knows that Emile is deadly serious about getting the picture back. The “terrible irony,” Archie... (full context)
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Now, Archie watches as Emile, apparently feeling secure enough that his secret is safe with Archie, begins... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...environment during a class period, a question that triggers the word is asked. Obie resents Archie for giving him this assignment “at this stage of the game,” in Obie’s senior year. (full context)
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...the wiser. Obie wonders if Jacques has figured it out on his own, or whether Archie tipped him off; either way, it is the teacher, not the students, now in command.... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Back at school, Archie waits in the stinking gymnasium for a meeting with Obie. Obie knows that Archie hates... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Brother Leon calls Archie on the telephone to tell the boy that he is in trouble—the chocolates are not... (full context)
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Leon ignores Archie’s question about finance and asks why Archie and his “friends” aren’t able to exert more... (full context)
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Archie asks Leon how he suggests Archie breathe new life into the sale, and Leon suggests... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...Vigils in a storage room off the gymnasium. On the lone table in the room, Archie has placed a single box of chocolates. Archie tauntingly asks Jerry if he would like... (full context)
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Archie asks the other members of the Vigils how many chocolates they’ve sold—they have all unloaded... (full context)
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Archie tells Jerry that nothing is personal in the Vigils. To demonstrate the Vigils’ sworn allegiance... (full context)
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Jerry says he simply doesn’t want to sell the chocolates. Archie laughs at this, and asks Obie if Obie wants to come to school each day.... (full context)
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At the use of the word “asking,” Obie observes that Archie seems desperate, and even scared. He feels as if he has won a victory over... (full context)
Chapter 27
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The Vigils have called a meeting—they have an assignment for a junior named Frankie Rollo. Archie regrets choosing Rollo, though—he is a troublemaker and a loner who does not participate in... (full context)
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Rollo urges Archie to “cut the shit”—he is not scared of the Vigils. The group, he says, can’t... (full context)
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Before Archie can get talking, however, Carter warns Archie that it is dangerous for them when students... (full context)
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Archie knows he must show Carter—and the rest of the group—that he alone can take care... (full context)
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Carter assents to Archie’s plan, and adjourns the meeting—but then warns Archie that his plan had better work, or... (full context)
Chapter 33
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Archie, over the phone, chides Janza for recruiting others to beat up Jerry. Janza protests that... (full context)
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Emile asks Archie what’s next, but Archie advises Emile to cool it for now—though he is keeping Janza... (full context)
Chapter 34
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Elsewhere in the school, Archie asks Obie if Obie has set the fifty boxes aside—Obie says he has, and asks... (full context)
Chapter 35
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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... (full context)
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Archie had called Jerry on the phone and offered him the chance to get revenge on... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 36
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Archie surveys the raffle tickets, which each bear an instruction for one of the fighters: for... (full context)
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Carter tries to hide his disgust—he feels that Archie is repellent, and always has an uncanny ability to make Carter feel as if there... (full context)
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Archie stands on the platform and lifts his head up to the bleachers—the entire student body... (full context)
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Obie smiles maliciously, thrilled to have caught Archie off-guard. He feels that in surprising Archie, he has at last triumphed over him. Carter... (full context)
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...filling the box with black marbles, but Carter had protested. Carter did insist, though, that Archie be made to pull from the box twice—once for Renault, and once for Janza. Now,... (full context)
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Archie reaches into the box and pulls out a white marble, quickly. He drops it back... (full context)
Chapter 37
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...of control, and looks around for help. Obie is nowhere to be seen; neither is Archie. Jerry is having trouble defending himself, and wishes he could just get one more hit... (full context)
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Archie stumbles away from the bleachers toward the utility building, but there is a veritable stampede... (full context)
Chapter 38
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As an ambulance approaches, Brother Jacques asks Archie why he did all of this to Jerry. Archie says he doesn’t know what Jacques... (full context)
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...disaster was “barely averted.” Leon sunnily tells Jacques that “boys will be boys.” Turning to Archie, Leon says that though Archie did not use his best judgement tonight, Leon knows Archie... (full context)
Chapter 39
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Archie and Obie are sitting in the bleachers. Obie realizes that this is where the two... (full context)
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Archie tells Obie that he’s going to forget what he and Carter did earlier with the... (full context)