Consequences of Conformity in The Chocolate War
Throughout Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War, the theme of the consequences of conformity, or nonconformity, is expressed. Although The Chocolate War was first published in 1974, this theme still pertains to the youth of today. This novel is timeless because teenagers will always face the choice of whether to be true to themselves, or to conform to what other’s expect of them. In response to this theme, David Peck states, “what this idea becomes is the concept of being true to oneself and standing up to the evil that one perceives in the world” (Peck 2).
Furthermore, this idea is conveyed when Jerry refuses to participate in his school’s chocolate sale. At first he refuses to participate in the fundraiser because of an “assignment” given to him by the Vigils. He is assigned not to sell the chocolates until the tenth day of selling. At this point, Jerry decides not to conform to what the other students are doing, he continues to refuse selling the chocolates. In return, this angers both the Vigils and Brother Leon. Jerry begins to be attacked by both the faculty and students of Trinity.
The attacks on Jerry begin verbally, but when the Vigils begin to think that Jerry is deliberately disobeying them, the abuse becomes physical. On the football field, “he was struck from behind, a vicious blow to the kidneys, sickening in its impact. His knees caved in and he sank to the ground again” (Cormier...