The Chocolate War

by Robert Cormier
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In The Chocolate War, what kind of student is Brian, and what are his insecurities?

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A senior at Trinity, Brian is a very gifted student, a real whizz when it comes to math. His expertise with numbers makes him the ideal candidate to be treasurer of the chocolate sale, so Brother Leon "volunteers" him for the job. At first, it's fair to say that Brian's none too enthusiastic about his new position. But after a while he gets with the program, so to speak, and even becomes caught up in the excitement of the chocolate sale.

Yet one can't overlook the fact that Brian was cajoled, intimidated almost, into getting involved with the illegal chocolate sale. In buying up so much chocolate, Leon has used the school's funds without authorization. Brian is aware of this, and so is unwittingly going along with a blatantly fraudulent activity. But because Brian is so easily intimidated, because he finds it so hard to stand up to bullies, he goes along with Brother Leon's illicit scheme.

Brian is clearly insecure, unsure of himself when it comes to dealing with other people, especially those more senior than himself. He may be good with numbers, but he's not so good when it comes to people. His social awkwardness and inability to fit in make him easy prey for Leon, who knows full well that he can get Brian to do his bidding without any real difficulty.

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