The Chocolate War: Novel Summary: Chapter 26 - 35
Summary, Chapter Twenty-Six, pp. 175-177
Jerry calls Ellen Barrett on the phone, but it does not go well. He gets tongue-tied when the girl who looked so sweet at the bus stop sounds unfriendly, even crude. Before he can even tell her his name and why he is calling, she accuses him of being a pervert and hangs up.
Jerry wonders if maybe he is a pervert. After all, he has this unreasonable sense that by not selling chocolates he is doing something “strong and noble.” This morning he resoundingly refused the chocolates again, and he felt wonderful doing so. He had felt so courageous that he had come home and called Ellen. So what if she did not welcome his call? Jerry has at last done something to break the monotony of his life.
Jerry is being true to himself, taking action on his own, doing what he believes to be the right thing. He feels invincible. No matter how much Jerry believes in himself, however, others in power see him differently, not as a hero but as a troublemaker—and trouble that Jerry cannot yet fathom is brewing.
Summary, Chapter Twenty-Seven, pp. 178-187
Frankie Rollo has appeared before The Vigils for an assignment, but he tells Archie that he is not afraid of guys who cannot even scare a freshman into selling chocolates.
Before Archie can say anything, Carter punches Rollo in the jaw and the stomach and ejects him from the meeting. Then he turns to Archie and accuses him of undermining The Vigils. First, Archie involved them in the chocolate sale; then Archie did not get a grip on Jerry Renault. Now The Vigils are losing face in the school. He asks Obie to produce a poster he found that declares “SCREW THE CHOCOLATES AND SCREW THE VIGILS.” Carter asks Archie what he intends to do about this situation.
Archie tries to appear unconcerned. He says that The Vigils must simply make the sale sound “cool,” and anyone who is not selling chocolates is decidedly uncool. This way, The Vigils will regain control of the school and regain favor with Brother Leon and the administration.
Carter, however, is not impressed. He tells Archie that he is on probation until the sale is over. Archie smiles, but inside he is furious.
Like Brother Leon, Archie has “overextended” The Vigils. He has pledged more than he can deliver, and he has done so for his own aggrandizement rather than for the good of The Vigils or even for the good of the school. He is finding out that he is not as powerful as he once believed if a brute like Carter can undermine him in front of the club.
Summary, Chapter Twenty-Eight, pp.188-196
At football practice, Jerry tackles Carter perfectly and feels a rush of pleasure in the “honest contact of football.” But as he rises to his feet, Jerry is brutally hit from behind, not once but twice. Jerry wonders who would intentionally assault him like that, and he begins to feel paranoid.
After school, Jerry receives a prank phone call. The call comes again at night, when Jerry is home alone.
The next day, Jerry discovers that the poster in his locker has been scrawled over with blue paint and his gym shoes have been slashed. Jerry begins to see that he is being given a strong message.
Every night now, the calls wake both Jerry and his father.
In art class, Brother Andrew tells Jerry that his watercolor assignment, which represents fifty percent of his grade, has not been turned in, although Jerry knows perfectly well that he turned it in on time. He also knows that someone deliberately took it off Brother Andrew’s desk.
At his locker, Jerry contemplates his ruined poster. He understands the loneliness of the solitary figure on the beach now. Does he still dare to disturb the universe at Trinity? “Yes, I do, I do. I think,” Jerry tells himself.
Archie has used his enormous power to marshal students against Jerry. The assault bears Archie’s style, his way of attacking a person by breaking him down mentally. But this time Archie seems to have added physical intimidation. Jerry is not safe on the football field, either.
Jerry is discovering that being true to oneself is admirable, but very lonely. Like Bailey standing before the class while Brother Leon made an example of him, Jerry stands alone before the whole school as Archie makes an example of him.
Summary, Chapter Twenty-Nine, pp. 197-201
The chocolate sale seems to have suddenly become a fad, with everyone eager to participate. What is interesting, however, is the way credit for boxes is spread evenly across the student population. When Carter comes in with cash for Brian to count, he tells Brian to make sure certain boys get credit for the sales. Brian is not about to question someone as powerful and popular as Carter; he just goes along. Besides, Brother Leon does not care who sells the chocolates as long as they are being sold. There are only four thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine boxes left to sell.
The Vigils have regained control of the school, thanks to Archie’s plan. And Brother Leon, of course, has regained his power, thanks to Archie. Significantly, Jerry Renault is not mentioned in this chapter. He is indeed alone, marginalized as the sales frenzy grips the whole school.
Summary, Chapter Thirty, pp. 202-207
Brother Leon does not have to perform a roll call each day, but he does so anyway, just to bask in the numbers. He congratulates each boy on his totals, knowing perfectly well that some boys, like Carter, have not sold any chocolates themselves. Goober is the only boy who has consciously stopped selling them.
Brother Leon seems content to let Jerry’s defiance go now, but Harold Darcy raises his hand. He asks Brother Leon why Jerry is not selling chocolates. Slyly, Brother Leon shifts the question to Jerry and watches as the class turns on him.
Jerry re-confirms with Brother Leon that the sale is voluntary and that he does not have to sell anything. Darcy asks Jerry if he thinks he is better than everyone else, and Jerry answers that he does not. The bell rings before Darcy can bait Jerry further. Goober notices that the boys in the hallway watch Jerry walk away silently and sullenly.
A few hours later, Goober finds out that he has been credited with selling all fifty boxes assigned to him. Goober feels sick; his protest has been deflated, but he does not have the courage to go in front of everyone and set the total straight.
The dialogue between Harold Darcy and Jerry Renault echoes that between Brother Leon and Gregory Bailey in Chapter Six. Brother Leon had been trying to bait Bailey by accusing him of thinking he was better than God; Darcy accuses Jerry of thinking he is better than “everyone else.” In Bailey’s case, Brother Leon ended his lesson by scolding the other boys for not standing up for Bailey, who kept protesting his innocence. Brother Leon does not step up now for Jerry. It does not matter to him that Jerry is as innocent as Bailey, and that he is showing immense integrity by sticking to his beliefs.
Summary, Chapter Thirty-One, pp. 208-213
Jerry is dismissed early from football practice because he seems to be having a bad day. Jerry knows, however, that the other players have been intentionally dropping his passes and not blocking for him.
On the way to the locker room, Jerry encounters Emile Janza, who calls Jerry a queer. When Jerry is almost to the point of hitting Janza, a group of boys suddenly appear and jump on Jerry. They beat him brutally, and Jerry realizes that they possibly want to kill him. They stop only when he begins to throw up.
Summary, Chapter Thirty-Two, pp. 214-220
Jerry makes it into the locker room, then down to the bus stop. He hides his face from fellow bus riders, thinking how unfair it is that he, the victim, must skulk around like a criminal. At home, he takes a bath, then crawls into bed. He misses his mother, suddenly, and the tears come pouring out. His father is still at work, and Jerry does not want him to discover what has happened to him.
Later, while he is eating soup, Jerry hears boys taunting him from outside. The sound is ghostly, like the long-ago sounds of friends calling him out to play, back when his mother was still alive and they lived in a proper house. When Jerry looks out the window, one of the boys throws a stone. Finally, the apartment custodian chases them away.
During the night, the telephone rings repeatedly. Jerry’s father agrees, finally, to give in to “them” and take the phone off the hook. He asks Jerry if he is okay, and Jerry says he is fine.
Chapters Thirty-one and Thirty-two make clear that Archie’s retribution against Jerry has gone beyond school pranks. It has turned both deadly and criminal. Of course, Archie is nowhere to be seen in these pranks, yet his genius overarches every act against Jerry.
Significantly, Jerry’s father remains clueless about his son’s trouble, as does the coach who cannot see that the team has turned against Jerry. Without the support of adults, Jerry is on his own.
Summary, Chapter Thirty-Three, pp. 221-222
Archie is not pleased that Janza called in some neighborhood kids to do the job he was supposed to do on Jerry Renault. Still, Archie is pleased that they have gotten to Jerry. He rewards Janza by telling him that maybe there was not a picture, after all. Emile is happy to believe so, but he is not certain he can trust Archie.
Summary, Chapter Thirty-Four, pp. 223-229
Jerry is being treated as if he were invisible at school. No one speaks to him. His locker has mysteriously been cleaned out, and Jerry feels like he is looking into an “upright coffin, as though someone was trying to obliterate him, remove all traces of his existence, his presence in the school.” Just as Jerry begins to like being invisible because he can finally relax, someone tries to push him down the stairs on the way to lunch.
Brian Cochran reports to Brother Leon that the chocolate sale is over. All the boxes, except for Renault’s fifty, have been sold: exactly nineteen thousand, nine hundred fifty boxes. Brother Leon does not seem perturbed by this uncanny number. He is just pleased that his troubles with the money are over. He tells Brian, however, that it is “school spirit” that has prevailed.
Brian wonders whether Brother Leon’s idea of school unity and brotherhood is right. He wonders if the individual, the Jerry Renaults of the world, are just as important. But then he decides he does not care; his job as treasurer is over.
Archie consults with Obie to make sure that Obie has secured the last fifty boxes of chocolates for a “special assembly” at the football stadium. He tells Obie that Jerry Renault will be given a chance to “‘get rid of his chocolates’” tomorrow night in a raffle.
Chapters Thirty-three and Thirty-four show Archie at work, masterminding Jerry’s downfall. With true cruelty, he has broken Jerry down both mentally and physically. But he has yet to get Jerry to give up his rebellion.
Summary, Chapter Thirty-Five, pp. 230-238
Archie stands in the stadium, pleased with his work. Raffle tickets are selling like crazy. A boxing ring stands ready on the field, with Emile Janza and Jerry Renault waiting on it nervously. He has conned both Janza and Jerry into to taking part in a grudge match against one another.
Archie did not tell Jerry, nor Janza, about the unusual rules of the fight until they were already on the platform. Now both are committed, yet neither trusts Archie. Jerry especially feels he is doing the wrong thing.
Archie the architect has constructed an elaborate scheme through which he confirms his power. He looks down at the field, at Emile Janza and Jerry, at the students buying tickets and thinks that he is all-powerful. He has manipulated everyone in that stadium, from Carter (who constructed the boxing ring) to every single student hoping to see blood. He has even managed to convince the teachers that this occasion is a student pep rally—no teachers required. He has made Jerry believe he can get revenge; he has persuaded Janza that Jerry is his enemy.
Chapter Thirty-five deliberately holds back key information (how does the raffle work?), creating the impression that Archie has one more piece to contribute to his masterpiece. This lack of information makes Archie’s power seem to reach off the page; readers, like the students at Trinity, must wait to find out how the raffle will work.