Jerry Renault is sent to a Catholic school after his mom has died. The school is very strict and has a yearly chocolate sale that all students are EXPECTED to participate in. Brother Leon gets it in his heard that the school can bring in a lot more money if they double what they sold the previous year making it 50 boxes of chocolates sold by each student.
Jerry finds himself mixed up in an encounter with the schools “gang” called the Vigils and he is instructed not to sell chocolates for the first ten days of the sale. Jerry complies and creates a very annoyed Brother Leon when Jerry does not do his part.
The real kicker is that after the ten days, Jerry decides he has had enough of people telling him what to do and when to do it so he continues to refuse to sell the chocolates on principle. It should be a choice to sell. Not an order. By doing this Jerry creates an uproar in the school of support that angers the Vigils who feel this is like a slap in the face to their control of the school. As time passes the Vigils work hard to gain control pushing kids to sell their chocolates making Jerry an outcast and eventually leading to what is referred to as the chocolate war.
I read this book this last October for banned book week. The book was banned due to the strong content, language, and deemed unsuitable for the age group it was written for. Of course, I loved it. ♥ There is a powerful message within The Chocolate War.
The movie, made in 1988, was well done. Ilan Mitchell-Smith does a good job of portraying Jerry, a boy who appears meek on the outside but has a strong sense of right and wrong on the inside. The head honcho for the Vigils, Archie (played by Wallace Langham, now on CSI) was also very good at his role. I felt the same emotions watching the movie as I had reading the book. I felt unsettled and angry at times. And in the end, neither the book or movie leave you with a feel good “all is well” feeling… you know.. that there is more to be done, and in this case, that is an ok and appropriate feeling.
I would say I enjoyed them both just about equally. The book was one I have wanted to read for a while and I was glad I finally got to it. The movie, was the big finale for me, to see it after reading it was perfect. I feel I can talk about The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier with some knowledge and opinion.
If you get the opportunity, I recommend reading The Chocolate War and then treating yourself to the movie. Perhaps maybe, for this next Octobers banned book week?