Chapter Seventeen is actually a very crucial chapter because in it we find out what Jerry plans to do. This is the day when his "Assignment" has finished and he can agree to sell chocolates just like everyone else. Yet, astonishingly, he decides to continue defying Brother Leon and the school by choosing not to be involved at all in the sale of the chocolates. To do so because it was required of him because of an Assignment is one thing, but to voluntarily choose to continue to defy the school authorities in such a way is of seismic importance. Thus it is that the ending of this chapter relates explicitly to Jerry's decision to continue defying the school:
Cities fell. Earth opened. Planets tilted. Stars plummeted. And the awful silence.
Clearly, hyperbole is used here to exaggerate the importance of this single event, but it does help to capture the sense of shock and the consequences that Jerry will have to face for this. For the school and for Jerry, this is an incredibly important moment.