I just finished the novel “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier and I have to say I am not sure I understand why it is has been banned in some libraries. I noticed that their were some implicit sexual references or the extensive violence in some scenes but I am sure that most kids have seen worse on television compared to this book. Also I think that this book had a good lesson once one gets passed the manipulation and the politics within the school. The lesson being I guess that one person can make a difference or have a impact on others just by speaking up against those who want them to sell chocolates. The only problem with this lesson is that speaking up comes at a price (spoiler alert) which is shown when Jerry almost dies by the end of the novel .However, I think even the politics of the vigils and administrator and the manipulating of others is realistic with the focus on who has the power and who does not is probably seen through out high schools and colleges.
But even with this battle of wills and power I think that Jerry shows us the every man. He like everybody surrounding him is just trying to get by and survive. Also he wants to see if his life has any meaning or if he will have any effect on people. I think this something most adults or teenagers are dealing with at some point in their life. He just wants to know that he has made a difference. I think that the reader faces the opposite problem with Archie. Archie always knows how to have an effect on someone else.
Archie gives us an in-depth look into the high school version of Machiavelli who always seems to knows his opponents next move and how to control them. He manipulates Emile with a fake photograph of him jacking off, he has others taunt Jerry through calling his house constantly, and he makes Goober feel terrible for unscrewing the desks and chairs in a instructors room. He is able to psychological toy with all of these men, with no consequence to him at all other than occasional feelings on ennui that he might not be able to come up with an assignment to initiate new teenagers to go through this pain to join the Vigils. I would feel bad for him but I think at this point that is like asking me to feel bad about the wicked witch of the west. Also Archie and Leon in way sort of symbolize in way how the world works those that the have the power can control others and their lives and those that don’t just have to work hard and hope to move up in the world. I am sure their are exceptions to this generalization, Archie just does not give a reader much hope.
Also on a tangential note I can relate with how Jerry feels not know if you are ever making a difference at all. Never sure if you are being manipulated or who you should trust and call a “friend”. I think we all need people like Goober in our lives who will stick with you through the good and bad in your life.