Beyond the Chocolate War Critical Context - Essay

Robert Cormier

Critical Context

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Beyond the Chocolate War, as well as Robert Cormier’s other novels, are outstanding examples of social and psychological realism for young adults. Cormier received the ALAN Award given annually by the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English to honor those individuals who have made important contributions to adolescent literature. He also received the Margaret A. Edwards award, presented each year by the Young Adult Services Division of the American Library Association. This award is given to authors who write about authentic adolescent experiences and emotions.

Cormier’s novel Fade (1988) continues the themes of secrets, illusions, and power depicted in Beyond the Chocolate War. The protagonist Paul Moreaux finds that his genetic ability to become invisible allows him to learn the secrets of others. He realizes that actions and individuals are interconnected and that it is necessary to act responsibly toward other people. In addition to novels, Cormier has written short stories, brought together in the collection Eight Plus One (1980). He prefaces each story with details about the sources of the characters and plot, as well as any problems he had in writing the story. Some of the stories take place in the 1930’s, when Cormier was growing up, while others are set in the 1970’s. Despite the difference in setting, all the selections deal with the problems of growing up.