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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.

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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 is the “traitor” and intimidates him by replacing the boxing trophies in the trophy case with a toilet-shaped ashtray.

Archie also feels the growing separation between himself and Obie, who has fallen in love with Laurie Gundarson. Bunting, who is being groomed to take Archie’s place, finds out about Obie and Laurie and stages an assault on them where they often park to make out. After this scene, Laurie feels violated and breaks up with Obie. When Obie learns who has staged this terrible event, he plots revenge, enlisting the aid of the newly arrived Ray Bannister, an amateur magician. Obie switches marbles in The Vigils’ black box so that Archie himself has to play the Fool on Fair Day. Although students are afraid to kick Archie or dunk him, he must put his head in Bannister’s guillotine.

David Caroni, too, has been devastated by the intrigues of the previous year, when Brother Leon gave him an F. Caroni’s growing obsession with revenge leads to his attempt to kill Brother Leon. When this plot fails, the desperate Caroni turns the violence upon himself.


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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 166

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