Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Beyond the Chocolate War continues the somber tale of the abuses of power begun in The Chocolate War (1974). Several characters introduced in the first novel struggle against the cruel Archie and the unethical Brother Leon. Using an omniscient point of view, Robert Cormier divides his novel into four parts, with the first two focusing on specific individuals and their particular problems. The third section brings the characters and their subplots together in a fast-moving climax. The fourth section indicates that corruption will continue at Trinity.

Each of the characters in Cormier’s sequel has been affected by the events in The Chocolate War. Jerry Renault has spent a year in Canada recuperating from the physical and emotional havoc wreaked by Archie Costello and Brother Leon. Jerry’s return to Monument forces his friend Goober to admit his guilt for not trying to stop the brutal fight that ends the first novel. Goober warns Jerry that Emile Janza is stalking him, and the two follow Janza for a confrontation in an alley.

In the meantime, Archie, the manipulative leader of the secret group called The Vigils, continues making humiliating “assignments” to other students during his senior year. For example, Archie’s plan for only one student to be in school during the day of the bishop’s visit is canceled when a student named Carter informs Brother Leon by letter. Archie tricks Carter into revealing that he...

(The entire section is 422 words.)


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Campbell, Patricia J. Presenting Robert Cormier. Boston: Twayne, 1985.

Coats, Karen. “Abjection and Adolescent Fiction.” JPCS: Journal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture & Society 5 (Fall, 2000): 290-300.

Gallo, Donald R. “Reality and Responsibility: The Continuing Controversy over Robert Cormier’s Books for Young Adults.” In The VOYA Reader. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow, 1990.

Hyde, Margaret O. Robert Cormier. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2005.

Ishandert, Sylvia Patterson. “Readers, Realism, and Robert Cormier.” Children’s Literature 15 (1987): 7-18.

Karolides, Nicholas J., ed. Censored Books, II: Critical Viewpoints, 1985-2000. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 2002.

Keeley, Jennifer. Understanding “I Am the Cheese.” San Diego: Lucent, 2001.

Myers, Mitzi. “’No Safe Place to Run To’: An Interview with Robert Cormier.” The Lion and the Unicorn: A Critical Journal of Children’s Literature 24 (September, 2000): 445-464.

Tarr, C. Anita. “The Absence of Moral Agency in Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War.” Children’s Literature 30 (2002): 96-124.

Veglahn, Nancy. “The Bland Face of Evil in the Novels of Robert Cormier.” The Lion and the Unicorn: A Critical Journal of Children’s Literature 2 (June 12, 1988): 12-18.