Chapter Thirty One
Jerry recognizes the bullies and is confronted by Janza.
And, wait, really? “You live in the closet.” This is the big insult?
“He wanted to make his own decisions” — is he? Really? Is any of this Jerry’s decision? Without the assignment, would he have said “no”?
So. “You’re a fairy. A queer” and “vomit threatened Jerry’s throat.” I’d like to say that this would be dated in 2013, but it’s not.
“The worst thing in the world — to be called a queer.”
And a bunch of kids beat up Jerry. No, really, apparently Janza brought back-up and they’re not even in high school.
Chapter Thirty Two
Let’s have a moment to note the casual violence. Because Jerry has been beat up and nothing?
And the phone calls and harassment continue.
And Jerry doesn’t tell his father.
Hm — 1974. Way, way, way before helicopter parents. Wonder what the helicopter parents of today would do with all this.
Chapter Thirty Three
And guess what! Archie was pulling Janza’s strings, down to the insults. Of course. Who didn’t know that?
Chapter Thirty Four
And now the silent treatment for Jerry. Again, I’d like to point out that bullying like this is equal opportunity, not just girls, not just boys.
And he’s still getting a bit roughed up.
The chocolate has all been sold and Leon is happy because he has his money.
Another big deep question (I can totally see why this is used in schools, so much to discuss!): what is more important, the school or the individual? The question is a bit easy to answer, though, in The Chocolate War because the school is rotten with a ton of nasty people in it.
Well, the chocolate sale is over but Archie’s games aren’t. He is having a “special assembly” tomorrow night.
Chapter Thirty Five
A boxing ring.
Oh, this is so not good.
And I understand why Archie is here. And Janza. And the nameless students. But Jerry? Really? Why?
Was this always Archie’s endgame? Or was he making it up as he went along?
And, still, the absence of parents.
“He had successfully conned Renault and Leon and The Vigils and the whole damn school. I can con anyone. I am Archie.”
And Jerry realizes he’s been tricked.
So, what is going on? Some type of raffle? Some weird rules? Pretty smart of Archie to involve the whole school: make sure guilt is shared equally.
Emile Janza. I almost feel sorry for him. “He had feelings like everyone else. . . . All right, so he liked to screw around a little, get under people’s skin. That was human nature, wasn’t it?” Maybe it’s that Janza isn’t as manipulative as Archie. Maybe it’s that Archie has manipulated Emile into being his fists, for all of Archie’s not liking violence and sweat. But I do feel a bit sorry for Janza.
Chapter Thirty Six
“They would have to fight the way the guys in the bleachers directed them.”
I cannot entirely hate Archie because this is pretty darn brilliant. And the crowd mentality, and knowing they won’t walk away, not even the participants.
Archie: “People are two things. Greedy and cruel.” (Ha, sort of like the old saying that you cannot cheat an honest man.)
“Archie repelled him in many ways but most of all by the way he made everybody feel dirty, contaminated, polluted. As if there was no goodness at all in the world.”
Interesting: Carter is a bit troubled as to whether this all means the world is bad, even though his presence here and his past actions clearly put him in the bad category. He just doesn’t recognize it. Archie makes people see that in themselves, perhaps?
Oh — and Archie does his first misreading. He thinks Carter is jealous. He doesn’t recognize that Carter is upset. So, I guess Archie is either a psychopath or sociopath? Which puts this book a bit beyond realistic for me, to be honest — Archie’s evilness, his lack of empathy or compassion or anything, is a bit too much.
The black box of chance comes out and Archie wins once again. Is it fixed? Who knows? Only thing for sure: Archie is playing at such a different level than anyone else, that no one here is even close to him.
Chapter Thirty Seven
Goober shows up, mainly to bear witness. Goober, who basically is so sickened by all this he has been literally home sick. (With parents!) I have to say: I don’t see Goober as weak, or a coward, I don’t judge him for not doing more. Goober is the only half-decent person here. The odds are so stacked against him and Jerry. Just transfer, man. Public school is not a bad option.
Of course this all goes horribly wrong and Renault becomes a punching bag. As it gets bad, a few (Carter at least) run away. But the mob stays.
And Jerry; it ends for Jerry as it began. Getting the crap beat out of him, it’s just the context is different.
Goober is horrified. Obie is disgusted.
Chapter Thirty Eight
Archie is confronted by a teacher, but if you think it’s the kind of book where a teacher asserts any type of moral authority or power and Archie gets in trouble, what book have you been reading because this is not that kind of book.
A doctor is called and Jerry is in pretty bad shape. He is broken in body and spirit. Conform, he warns Goober, or “otherwise they murder you.” Except it’s not quite “they” because Jerry played into this by showing up and participating in the rally and the fight.
And Archie? Doesn’t give a damn. Still clam and cool.
And really? No one is going to follow up on this? Even in 1974? An AMBULANCE and it’s just “boys will be boys”?
Leon is even more of a sociopath than Archie. Because he watched it all and enjoyed it; and because Leon was motivated by greed. It implies, at least, a bit of a choice and I wonder if Archie has any choice in how he is.
Chapter Thirty Nine
And it ends as it began with Archie and Obie. Sitting on a bleacher. Frenemies.