Why does Renault feel uneasy? What is he searching for?

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danylyshen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Especk: I'm not sure if you meant the whole novel or just a specific section?

Philosophically, we need to interpret Jerry and his actions along existential lines, because Jerry's entire plight in the novel is a struggle againinst a chaotic universe and the trials and tribulations which being-in-this-world entails. Renault feels uneasy for numerous reasons. Firstly, he is struggling with the death of his mother and the grief / problems of his father.

Secondly, he has to go to a new school and try to fit in. The problem with this second event is that he refuses to "conform" and refuses to sell the chocolates that the vigils and Brother Leon want him to sell. Jerry enters into direct conflict with both hegemonies at the school: Brother Leon and Archie's "Vigils"--together these would make most any grade nine student "uneasy."

Existentially, jerry is searching for authenticity of self, some peace from his sorrows, acceptance from his peers and a sense of individuality. The teen years are a difficult time. Jerry needs to forge some sort of personal identity in a sea of conformity.   

Read the study guide:
The Chocolate War

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