The Chocolate War

by Robert Cormier

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In The Chocolate War, why do the students sell chocolate?

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In Robert Cormier's celebrated novel The Chocolate War, the students of Trinity High School are required to sell fifty boxes of chocolates each in order to reach their goal of selling twenty thousand total boxes. As the Assistant Headmaster of the school, Brother Leon has doubled the typical number of boxes to be sold during the annual chocolate sale and enlists the help of Archie Costello and the Vigils to meet the goal. In addition to making the students sell fifty boxes of chocolates, instead of the typical twenty-five boxes, they must also sell the chocolates at the higher price of two dollars per box.

Archie believes that Brother Leon has significantly overextended himself by requiring the students to sell twenty thousand total boxes of chocolates but agrees to help him out. Brother Leon has faith that the Vigils and Trinity's school spirit will motivate the students to sell the required boxes of chocolates and publicly announces each student's sales every week. Initially, the Vigils give Jerry Renault the assignment to refuse selling chocolates for the first ten days of the sale. However, Jerry continues his private protest against the Vigils and Trinity High School's tradition by not participating in the chocolate sale after his assignment has ended. Tragically, Jerry is ostracized, bullied, and physically abused for his defiance, and the students end up selling the twenty thousand boxes of chocolates. Overall, the students reach the goal of selling twenty thousand boxes because they adhere to tradition, conform to Trinity's culture, and obey the Vigils' authority.

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What is the real reason the kids sell chocolate in The Chocolate War?

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier is a book about a boys' high school. Each year, the boys are encouraged to sell chocolates as a school fundraiser.

One year, freshman Jerry Renault refuses to sell any chocolate. The action prompts violence both from the other students and even from the teachers.

The short answer to your question, "Why do the kids sell chocolates?" is because they are encouraged to sell chocolates by their teachers in order to help with costs of the school.

However, the novel explores the fact that it's a lot more complicated than it seems.

When Jerry first refuses to sell chocolates, it's because of a dare given to him by a group of students who call themselves the Vigils. They often select students to carry out assignments or pranks against the teachers.

However, when Jerry refuses the chocolates, he is also standing against the structure that's been set out for him. He doesn't want to be a mindless follower like the other students or go through life in a trance like his dad does.

He stops selling chocolates and continues not to sell chocolates, long after his assignment is over because he doesn't want to conform. His rebellion gives him a greater sense of choice and power in his own life.

So, you could say that the other students do sell the chocolates because it's easier to conform than to stand against the expectations that have been placed on them.

Although selling chocolates is optional, it's also expected, and it's much easier and safer to follow expectations than to rock the boat the way Jerry Renault did.

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