"The Chocolate War": Your Thoughts?

I just finished reading “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier. I read it because I am helping a student in English. However, I’m not sure (a) what a teacher is likely to ask and (b) what is the author’s point??? (The plot didn’t seem very deep.)

It could be to stick by your beliefs at all costs, or it could be a true-to-life commentary about life and society - as opposed to how movies portray life. Overall, I felt the story was contrived and left me with many unanswered questions about the indifference of the adult characters in the story. Often compared to “Lord of the Flies”, I feel it pales by comparison…leaving many holes in character behavior and fragments of sub-plot unfinished.

(By the way, I loved “I Am The Cheese” by the same author done in a similar, suspenseful style, but quite a surprising ending! It seemed more realistic and plausible, in comparison.)

I’m curious to know what opinions the SDopers have to share!

  • Jinx

From what I remember of it (I think I read it in eighth grade; three-quarters of the known universe apparently read it around the same time), it’s mostly about conformity. A commentary of sorts about how cruel people can be, that sort of thing. I agree with your complaints. It’s standard young-adult reading, but I don’t know why. I don’t think it’s very good at all. (Personally, I thought Lord of the Flies sucked as well because of the heavy-handed symbolism and the pronouncements about how evil people really are.)

I enjoyed The Chocolate War very much when I read it as a 6th or 7th grader…but I’m not certain that books you like as a kid always hold up well when you try to re-read them an adult.

Anyway, we had this discussion on the Chocolate War in the Pit a while back. It started out with either an OP that whooshed everyone or a really stupid OP, but several people weighed in with thoughts on the book.

I didn’t re-read the thread just now, but I seem to remember a pretty big split of people between those who really liked it and those who felt as you did.

Thanks, I’ll have to check out the thread in The Pit!

The boy I am tutoring is in 10th grade. Ages ago when I was in 9th grade English, I was supposed to read it. However, my teachers really turned me off to reading. The class was so overcrowded, we had actually had two teachers who verbally abused us using a tag-team fashion. They could make even Shakespeare hate reading and writing!

IMHO, “The Chocolate War” also has undertones similar to that of Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye”. I liked the cynical attitude of that book. I thought Cormier had a good idea, but I was expecting a different ending…like the adults to act like authority figures. One does, but in such a weak fashion, it was added more to drag out the scene than execute some authority. Repeating, (per the OP),
the story is loosely strung behooving readers to take leaps of faith in order to sew up all the loose ends in the main storyline (and sub-plots) themselves.

Too bad. This shallow, underdeveloped story is more like a bittersweet chocolate war!

  • Jinx