The Chocolate War – Essay The idea, ‘Do I dare disturb the universe? ’ is a strong message of the book, The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier.
The book highlights tradition, discipline and authority, the possible evils of being too wrapped up in the idea of accepting what is because it is, and the question of ‘is the universe worth disturbing? ’ in regards to the message. The universe is represented by the school, Trinity High, as a microcosm of the macrocosm of the American society. Tradition plays a part in the message, as to disturb the universe you must break tradition.
For example, Jerry not doing his part in the chocolate sale, which has always been a Trinity tradition for all the boys to help fundraise, causes shock and admiration. Another example is Archie getting the Vigils involved with the chocolate sales, something in which was never part of their policy and causing some disarray within the group. Brother Leon also, by raising the number of chocolates and doubling its price, breaks the tradition of the school’s sale and increasing its pressure to be successful.It is also due to tradition that The Vigils and the other various sales conducted by the school are accepted by the student body.
The school sets high levels of discipline and enforces it with its authority. Thus discipline and authority are a large factor of the message. The boys at Trinity High know to do as they’re told to avoid trouble. The Vigils keep the school under control through fear strategies; emphasising their authority and an unquestioning obedience from the student body.
When an assignment is set out by the Vigils is it protocol to not refuse, if you do there shall be dire consequences as demonstrated by Carter, the Vigils president, on Frankie Rollo who gets severely beaten up on the attempt of following Jerry’s example. Jerry gets punished himself, severely beaten twice, for resisting the Vigils authority by not selling the chocolates. Archie and The Vigils challenge the authority of the school and Brother Leon as well, through practical jokes, targeting the Brothers and the school itself. However in the end Archie and The Vigils does what Brother Leon ants by selling every last box of chocolate. Though Archie attempts to turn the table by inflicting forms off blackmail on Brother Leon, the authority of the school and the Vigils are unchanged and balanced by a silent truce.
The possible evils of being too wrapped up in the idea of accepting what is because it is, is also noted in the story. For example, nobody stands up to Brother Leon as his character has always been accepted almost to point that it’s expected for him to victimise a student thus feeding him the power of absolute control.The school also has never been questioned due this attitude and so when sales are conducted the boys of Trinity High all willingly volunteer such as in chocolate sale where no one thinks twice of the reason behind the doubled price rate and quantity of chocolates to be sold. This idea is also another reason as to why the victims of The Vigils do not question why he was chosen for a particular assignment. The question of ‘is the universe worth disturbing? ’ is an issue raised in the book as by disturbing the universe you are gambling as to whether or not it’ll pay off.
In Jerry’s case it did not. After much harassment of several forms, Jerry realises his error and losses the battle before telling his friend Goober, ‘the universe is not worth disturbing’, but the importance of his act was that he had made the others see the school in its true light even though it was only for a short while. Archie however pulls off his gamble greatly and not only delivers the success behind the chocolate sale but also eliminates the ‘Jerry problem’ at the end. Brother Leon also saves himself with the chocolate sale success.Therefore the idea, ‘Do I dare disturb the universe? ’ is a strong message of The Chocolate War where the main characters of the story challenge the tradition plus discipline and authority of the school, The Vigils and the Brothers. Issues such as the possible evils of being too wrapped up in the idea of accepting what is because it is are raised in the book and the question of ‘is the universe worth disturbing? ’ is also discussed in regards to what happens to Jerry, Archie and Brother Leon at the end. ***