Classic Novel: The Chocolate War


Bibliographical Information:

Title- The Chocolate War

Author- Robert Cormier

ISBN- 0375829873

Publisher- Ember

Copyright- 1974

Genre (s): YA

Interest Age: 14 and up

Reader’s Annotation: Jerry Renault refuses to sell chocolate in his school’s annual fund-raiser. In doing so, he disrupts the order of things and in turn gains the wrath of The Vigils.

Plot Summary:

Jerry Renault is tasked with the assignment by The Vigils, a school gang, to refuse to sell chocolates in the school’s annual fundraiser. He goes along with the assignment, much to Brother Leon’s dismay. He is then told by The Vigils that he must begin to sell chocolates after 10 days. When Brother Leon calls his name, Jerry says “no” meaning he will not sell the chocolate. The Vigils call Jerry to meet, and tell him that he is to begin selling chocolates the next day. Jerry still refuses to sell the chocolates. The Vigils, and their leader Archie, decide to make life hell for Jerry. They do just that, and more by getting other students involved. Archie plans a rally for the students, and has students write moves for either Jerry or another student named Janza to make against each other in a boxing match. Jerry ends up with a broken jaw and a few other injuries, and no hope for the future.

Critical Evaluation:

I liked this book. I typically do not like darker novels, but I found that I connected very well with the characters. I had never heard of this book before this course, but I am glad I was able to get a glimpse into some classic YA literature, including The Chocolate War. I think I like this novel mostly because it was out of the norm that I usually read, and I liked it.

Author Bio/Information:

“Robert Edmund Cormier (January 17, 1925–November 2, 2000) was an American author, columnist and reporter, known for his deeply pessimistic, downbeat literature. His most popular works include I Am the Cheese, After the First Death, We All Fall Down and The Chocolate War, all of which have won awards. The Chocolate War was challenged in multiple libraries. His books often are concerned with themes such as abuse, mental illness, violence, revenge, betrayal and conspiracy. In most of his novels, the protagonists do not win” (“Robert Cormier,” n.d.).

Ties to Curriculum Units: N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

Would you “dare to disturb the universe?”

Challenging Issues:

This book has been challenged a number of times because of it’s language, not exactly positive message, and violence. I would explain to anyone challenging this book that it can be realistic to what people, especially teens, go through even today.


Robert Cormier. (n.d.) Goodreads. Retrieved from


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