Describe the rules and organization of the fight between Jerry and Emile in The Chocolate War. How does it get out of hand?

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sfwriter eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Vigils originally constructed the fight between Jerry and Emile to go as follows:  A boxing ring is set up so that everyone in school can watch.  Emile (who is a strong and ruthless fighter, and has a history of antagonizing Jerry) and Jerry must go in to the ring and wait for instructions.  Carter, the president of The Vigils, reads out descriptions of blows (such as "right jab to the jaw") which each fighter must inflict on the other in turns.  The fighter receiving the blow cannot fight back, but must wait for the instructions for the next hit.  Every boy in the audience has written down the punches that he would like to see, and these are drawn by Carter at random.  It is violent entertainment created as punishment for Jerry, and amusement of the lowest kind for the school population. 

There were some rules set up for the fight which would have prevented the worst kind of abuse, but, ironically, those rules are what caused the fight to get out of hand.  The audience was not supposed to request illegal punches.  When Carter reads out a description of a blow which calls for a hit below the belt, Emile, of course, takes this opportunity.  When Jerry, understandably, tries to block Emile's illegal punch, Emile -- whose sense of morality has always been flexible, if it exists at all -- decides that Jerry is cheating, and proceeds to pummel him unmercifully.  Only the action of Brother Jacques, who turns out the lights and makes everyone flee, saves Jerry from a fatal beating.