What challenges does Josh face in The Battle of Jericho?

In The Battle of Jericho, Josh and Jericho Prescott are pledges for the Warriors of Distinction, an exclusive club. Despite the challenge of their consciences, the boys participate in all kinds of behavior they know is wrong, demeaning, and dangerous. Tragedy overtakes them when Josh is killed in a pledge stunt.

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In Sharon M. Draper's novel The Battle of Jericho, Jericho and Josh Prescott (who are cousins) have the rare opportunity to join the most exclusive club at school, the Warriors of Distinction. The boys jump at the chance, and at first everything seems okay. They participate in a toy drive sponsored by the Warriors and feel quite good about it.

Soon, however, the boys learn that projects like the toy drive are only a part of the group's activities. Their charitable work makes them look good from this outside, but there is something deeper and much more sinister about the Warriors. Josh and Jericho, for instance, are told to meet the Warriors at a warehouse one midnight and have to sneak out. They know that is wrong, but they want to be in the club so much that they go along. They are bound to secrecy about the club's activities. Again, they know this behavior is wrong, and their consciences challenge them. Yet they continue on the path to becoming Warriors.

The boys are now caught up in a round of hazing that is both degrading and dangerous. As pledges, they must do everything the club members tell them to do, even to the point of stealing and allowing themselves to be beaten. They are forced to give up all their other activities and focus on the club alone. Again, Josh and Jericho know this is not right, yet the peer pressure and their desire to belong to this exclusive group keeps them going.

Then disaster strikes. The Warriors give the pledges, including Josh and Jericho, alcohol on the last night of the infamous pledge week. Then they make them jump out a second-story window in the traditional “Leap of Faith.” There are mattress piled below, and by the time they get to the window, the pledges are mostly drunk and have few inhibitions. Josh jumps last, but he misses the mattresses, hits his head on a rock, and dies. The boys have now learned the hard way what can happen when they continually fail to listen to their consciences and focus on trying to win the favor and acceptance of others.

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