The Role of Peer Pressure in the Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Peer pressure plays a major factor in Robert Cormiers book, The Chocolate War. Peer pressure makes decisions, determines the outcome of conflicts, and often puts people in places they do not want to be in. Peer pressure is a big factor in The Chocolate War.

A chocolate sale every year is tradition at Trinity High School, and the Headmaster is often the person who puts it on, but this year he is sick, so he issues a sale. Brother Leon puts on the sale for Trinity, but he has a few changes. First, he spends too much of the schools money buying the chocolates. Second, the chocolates are being sold for twice the amount of money they were the year before. Lastly, there are twice as many chocolates to be sold than the previous year. Leon goes to the Vigils for help. The Vigils are the most powerful organization in Trinity, and students look up to them.

Archie Costello of the Vigils gives assignments to students and they have to do them, because he is powerful. Leon pulls Archie aside and tells him about the power he and the Vigils had in the school. The kid was quick to comply and Archie was pleased with his submissiveness. I am Archie. My wish becomes command, (239). Archie and the Vigils pitch in and do their part. The only problem is, one freshman will not accept the chocolates.

Jerry Renault is a freshman at Trinity and he refuses to sell the chocolates. He does this because the Vigils give him an assignment to refuse to sell the chocolates for ten days, and then accept them. After a few days word spreads of this and others stop selling chocolates and the school is losing money. I heard Brother Jacques saying that Leon was abusing his power of attorney. That hed overextended the schools finances, (162). Leon pressured Archie and the Vigils to help boost the sales any way they can. Perhaps you should start with Renault, Leon said.

I think he should be made to say yes instead of no, (165). Jerry encounters Emile Janza whom Archie told to make him accept the chocolates by beating him up and jeering at him, but Emile gets a bunch of kids to beat up Jerry instead of himself. The school thinks Emile is a wimp for getting a group of kids to fight for him. That is when Archie finds a way for Emile to fight Jerry, and sell the chocolates.

Archie plans a fight no more than a quarter mile from the school, in the schools field. It is between Jerry and Emile, and the crowd. The crowd is involved because they pick the punches each person throws. A raffle for the chocolates is also being held just to get enough money for the unsold boxes. Each raffle ticket has a punch and a name on it, the name that is on the ticket is the person who throws the punch, and the punch written down on the ticket is the type of punch they throw. Archie knew before the match that Jerry would fight because it was his chance to prove he was better than Emile. Archie pressured him into fighting the same way he pressured Emile into fighting.

The first few punches are given to Jerry. When it is Jerrys turn, he knocks Emile back who is surprised by the power the freshman has. Jerry slips up and tries to defend himself on an illegal move and Emile thinks all bets were off and starts beating him up at will. While this is going on, the crowd is cheering him on to finish him and Jerrys best friend is yelling for him. His voice was lost in the thunder or screaming voices, voices calling for the killkill him, kill him, (254). After a couple of shots, Jerry falls and his friend runs from the crowd to save him.

Brother Leon pressuring the Vigils to make kids sell the chocolates, Leon again pressuring the Vigils to help boost the sales, and the school pressuring Emile and Jerry to fight. Peer pressure is everywhere and controls lives in real life and in the book. Thats why people should not worry about what others think about them and they should be themselves.

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