The Chocolate War

by Robert Cormier
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In The Chocolate War, why do the kids sell chocolate?

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In Robert Cormier's celebrated novel The Chocolate War , the students of Trinity High School are required to sell fifty boxes of chocolates each in order to reach their goal of selling twenty thousand total boxes. As the Assistant Headmaster of the school, Brother Leon has doubled the typical...

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In Robert Cormier's celebrated novel The Chocolate War, the students of Trinity High School are required to sell fifty boxes of chocolates each in order to reach their goal of selling twenty thousand total boxes. As the Assistant Headmaster of the school, Brother Leon has doubled the typical number of boxes to be sold during the annual chocolate sale and enlists the help of Archie Costello and the Vigils to meet the goal. In addition to making the students sell fifty boxes of chocolates, instead of the typical twenty-five boxes, they must also sell the chocolates at the higher price of two dollars per box.

Archie believes that Brother Leon has significantly overextended himself by requiring the students to sell twenty thousand total boxes of chocolates but agrees to help him out. Brother Leon has faith that the Vigils and Trinity's school spirit will motivate the students to sell the required boxes of chocolates and publicly announces each student's sales every week. Initially, the Vigils give Jerry Renault the assignment to refuse selling chocolates for the first ten days of the sale. However, Jerry continues his private protest against the Vigils and Trinity High School's tradition by not participating in the chocolate sale after his assignment has ended. Tragically, Jerry is ostracized, bullied, and physically abused for his defiance, and the students end up selling the twenty thousand boxes of chocolates. Overall, the students reach the goal of selling twenty thousand boxes because they adhere to tradition, conform to Trinity's culture, and obey the Vigils' authority.

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