The Chocolate War

The Chocolate War Summary and Analysis of Chapters 31-35

In chapter thirty-one, Emile Janza challenges Jerry as he is leaving football practice. The team has again been sabotaging him on the field, and the coach has sent him to the showers early. Emile taunts Jerry, implying with sickening oiliness that Jerry is a homosexual. He even gently caresses Jerry's cheek. To Jerry, this kind of accusation is abominable and intolerable. Janza tells Jerry that he is polluting Trinity with his refusal to participate in the sale. When Jerry again refuses, Emile taunts him further, saying, "Kiss me." This angers Jerry, and Emile calls out five or six boys from the bushes. They give Jerry a severe beating, clawing him and kicking him. When they hit him in the groin Jerry finally vomits on his attackers, and they run away, disgusted.

In the next chapter, Jerry lies in bed nursing his wounds. As he wakes he hears himself softly crooning, as a mother would to a child. He misses his mother terribly. He hasn't asked anyone for help, and his father is working the evening shift. Jerry is alone. Later, the phone calls begin again, and a hissing and teasing group of boys taunt Jerry from outside his building. Still, Jerry doesn't tell his father what is going on. They briefly discuss leaving the phone off the hook, but Jerry's father doesn't seem to notice Jerry's bruises, and he certainly doesn't offer to help him.

Chapter thirty-three opens with Archie and Emile Janza discussing the torture Janza has been inflicting on Jerry over the phone. It was Archie's idea to taunt Jerry by calling him gay, but Emile went against Archie's instructions by paying a group of younger boys to gang up on Jerry. Emile wants to continue hurting Jerry, but Archie says to wait for a while. Emile again asks Archie for the blackmail photograph, and again Archie refuses. Now, the reader learns that there really is no photograph: Archie has been lying to Emile the whole time.

By chapter thirty-four, Jerry has been ostracized by the entire school. No one speaks to him, and everyone gives him a wide berth. His locker has been cleaned of the vandalism. He goes through the day feeling invisible, sensing that even the teachers are ignoring him. On the stairs, however, someone pushes him from behind, so he knows that people are watching and waiting to hurt him.

Cochran reports to Brother Leon that all of the chocolates have been sold save for Jerry's fifty. Cochran knows that something is fishy, however, because it's practically impossible for the sale of that many chocolates to come out even - some are always spoiled, lost, or broken. Brother Leon exults, telling Cochran that Trinity has overcome the rebellion of one student, and proven that one bad apple doesn't spoil the whole barrel.

Obie and Archie have plans for the last fifty boxes. Archie announces that he is going to raffle them off. Obie asks the nature of the raffle, but Archie says only that Jerry will be there.

In chapter thirty-five, the nature of the raffle is starting to unfold. Archie has arranged for the entire school to be present at the athletic stadium, under the guise of a football rally. The stadium is a quarter of a mile from the school and the Brothers' residences, so it will likely go undetected. Archie has summoned Jerry, saying it will be his chance to take revenge. Archie has given Cochran enough attention to convince him to organize the raffle and sell the tickets. Emile and Jerry are in the ring facing each other, with the entire student body shouting for blood.


Throughout the book, Archie continually calls Emile a "beast" to his face. Emile has to take this abuse because he believes that Archie has a very damaging picture of him, which he will expose if Emile doesn't do as he says. Though this idea has been building throughout the story, it is clear now that Archie views certain people as subhuman. Archie's narcissism ("I am Archie. My wish becomes command") and dehumanization of others is fully revealed in this section. Only a person so cut off from other people could devise the cruel gladiatorial spectacle of a pitched boxing match to punish Jerry. And the Roman-circus flavor of the event is not arbitrary; Jerry is supposed to look like the proverbial Christian thrown to the lions (the beast Emile).

The fact that Archie so easily reduces another human being, Emile, to subhuman status shows yet another layer of his depravity. He has no problem using Emile, his ally and unwilling servant in Jerry's persecution, to complete his destruction of Jerry. The fact that Emile, in addition to Jerry, could be very seriously hurt in the boxing match is of no consequence to Archie. He sees only the beautiful, cruel symmetry of the Assignment.

The raffle shows that everything - grades, popularity, power - is currency at Trinity. Everything can be bought and sold, except for Jerry's participation. Emile's loyalty, Cochran's compliance, and Goober's withdrawal and refusal to fight can all be bought by various forms of coercion. Trinity is an amoral marketplace.

In 1974, to a suburban Catholic boy, the insult of homosexuality - groundless or not - would have been intolerable. The stigma surrounding homosexuality still exists today for some segments of the populace, but it was much nearly universal at the time of the publication of this novel. This kind of taunting could not have been borne; it almost guaranteed a fight. This is one section of the novel that may appear somewhat dated to modern readers; even though Cormier made a concerted effort to avoid slang and word choices that denoted the specific time during which he was writing, he could not have foreseen the dramatic shift in public opinion that would occur in regards to homosexuality in the coming decades.

Jerry's utter isolation begins even before he is ostracized at school. In fact, it begins when he decides for himself that he will not sell the chocolates - even before The Vigils turn on him. His sense of detachment from Trinity is profound, perhaps because of the extraordinary suffering he has already experienced. Perhaps Jerry is less tolerant of the machinations of Brother Leon and The Vigils because he knows what real pain feels like: he has lost his mother, and so cannot feel the sense of oneness with others that is so crucial to a mob mentality.

Jerry's horrible beating by Emile's hired boys graphically shows the unheroic nature of violence. Not only is this beating-for-hire not even carried out by the beastly Emile, but the hired thugs are children who have been corrupted by the mob mentality, as well. This, compounded by the ignominious blow to the groin, and Jerry's natural but decidedly unheroic reaction of vomiting completes the sordid picture. A clearer condemnation of physical violence is difficult to imagine.