The Chocolate War

by Robert Cormier

Start Free Trial

How does Brother Leon target Bailey in The Chocolate War?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Under the guise of teaching the class a lesson in "political connivance", Brother Leon calls Bailey, "one of the weak kids, high honor student, but shy, introverted, always reading, his eyes red-rimmed behind...glasses", to stand in front of the class.  As Leon expounds on the subject of discipline, gesturing with his pointer, he suddenly strikes Bailey hard on the cheek, leaving a welt.  He tells Bailey he is sorry but "his voice lack(s) apology.  Continuing his erratic behavior, Leon then chillingly asks Bailey why he "find(s) it necessary to cheat".

Bailey, stunned, denies the accusation, but Leon persists, offering as evidence a convoluted series of proofs.  He says that only a genius could achieve all A's as Bailey has, and asks Bailey if he considers himself to be a genius.  Bailey has no choice but to answer in the negative, to which Leon responds that he must, then, be perfect, and if so, then he must be comparable to God.  Since that is obviously not the case, Leon concludes that Bailey must undoubtedly be cheating to get the grades he is getting.

Bailey is speechless, helpless before Leon's demonical cruelty, and the class is stymied, angry but silent.  A lone voice "boom(s)" from the back of the class in protest, and then the bell rings, signaling the end of the period.

Brother Leon is not finished, however.  Regarding the class "pityingly", he turns the tables, telling Bailey he is "the bravest of all" for standing his ground, and accusing the class of a lack of character for "(sitting there and enjoy(ing) themselves...(or, if they) didn't enjoy themselves, (for) allowing it to happen".  He tells Bailey that he "turned (the) classroom into Nazi Germany for a few moments", and contemptuously declares that while the class doubted Bailey's integrity, he, Brother Leon, never did (Chapter 6).

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial