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Is this a good book to do a literary analysis paper on or is I Am the Cheese better?

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vmduffy | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 5, 2010 at 1:45 AM via web

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Is this a good book to do a literary analysis paper on or is I Am the Cheese better?

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 5, 2010 at 3:34 AM (Answer #1)

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I much prefer The Chocolate War, as it is a groundbreaking young adult novel with a complex narrative style, symbolism, and themes.

Narrative style: the novel is told from multiple points of view, much like Faulkner did with his "free style" narration in As I Lay Dying.  Although this causes our narrators to be unreliable, we get a better perspective of Jerry and his problems, and a shifting point of view prevents the novel from being melodramatic, in that we empathize with, but no pity Jerry.

Symbolism: Cormier is a bit heavy-handed with the religious imagery and metaphors here, and it has caused some backlash, especially in the Catholic community.  But the novel can be read as a kind of morality tale/allegory of individual good versus group evil.  The novel also attacks the greed of capitalism through symbolic tropes.

Themes: already mentioned is the Good v. Evil and Individual vs. Group themes.  Also present are the Victim vs. Victimized (due to peer pressure) and--the most relevant--Courage vs. Cowardice.  All of these themes are intertwined, as Cormier attacks groups the way many existentialist writers do: pitting a lone individual, absurd hero against a group  (peers and authority figures; even God/religion).

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