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In Chapters 1-8 of The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, what is Goober's Vigil...

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anthonyperez | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 5, 2009 at 9:38 AM via web

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In Chapters 1-8 of The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, what is Goober's Vigil assignment?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 6, 2009 at 2:00 AM (Answer #1)

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Goober's assignment is to loosen all the screws in Brother Eugene's room.

In Chapter 5, Goober is called before the Vigils to receive his assignment.  He is instructed to sneak into the school building the following Thursday afternoon with a selection of screwdrivers.  The Vigils have already ascertained that "the school will be deserted...the brothers...will be off to a conference...the janitor is taking a day off...there'll be no one in the building after three in the afternoon".  Once he gets into Room 19, Brother Eugene's room, Goober is to loosen every screw in the room "until they reach that point where they're almost ready to fall out, everything hanging there by a thread".  He is to stay until every screw has been sabotaged, even if it takes all night.

The assignment Goober is given is monumental, and he would not have been able to finish it were it not for the aid of the Vigils themselves, who show up in Room 19 in masks to help Goober, who has been working alone feverishly for six hours.  In that time he had only gotten through two rows of desks and chairs.  The Vigils apparently had realized that the task was too much for a single person to accomplish, and they arrive on the scene to make sure it is done to completion, telling Goober that "the assignment is more important than anything else", more important than any of them as individuals, or the school I (Chapter 8). 

The effect the Goober and the Vigils worked so long to create is accomplished in thirty-seven seconds, when Brother Eugene's first class enters the room the next day.  Everything in the room collapses in a chaotic scene of utter destruction.  Brother Leon, who is in charge of the school at the time, is livid, and it is rumored that Brother Eugene suffers a nervous breakdown (Chapter 11).

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