Conformity In The Chocolate War

1006 Words5 Pages
“They tell you to do your thing but they don’t mean it. They don’t want you to do your thing, not unless it happens to be their thing, too. It’s a laugh, Goober, a fake. Don’t disturb the universe, Goober, no matter what the posters say.” (Cormier 259) This statement made by Jerry to Goober at the end of The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier sums up Jerry’s experience in not conforming to the expectations of his school and his peer group. It is easier to follow the crowd than to stand up for what you believe in. Robert Cormier uses Jerry’s experience in refusing to conform and participate in his school’s chocolate sale to highlight the consequences of nonconformity.

When Jerry first refuses to sell the school’s chocolates he is seen as a
…show more content…
They have sold the idea that everyone should do their share to sell the chocolates, and anyone who doesn’t should be punished. The idea of selling the chocolates has become the trend at the school. It is not Jerry’s course of action, however, and he becomes the outcast and gets punished by his peers in the end. The consequences that Jerry endures from his peers include : getting beat up by an unseen person at football practice, receiving prank phone calls at his home at all hours of the night, having his locker at school broken into and getting its contents destroyed, finding his art project that is due stolen from the teacher’s desk, and worst of all, getting seriously beaten up at a rigged school boxing fight. This shows the power of conformity and the human nature to conform. In the beginning of the story, Jerry was a hero for his nonconformity, and people began to follow his lead. Now the attitude has changed and Jerry’s nonconformity has become an offense. Jerry comes to see that it is easier to follow the herd than to be an individual. He realizes that there are consequences for challenging the order of things. This idea of conforming to the group has been demonstrated in fashion trends, in religious groups such as Scientology, and in the tragedy of Nazi…show more content…
Cormier uses Jerry’s experience to highlight how the “thing to do” can change from day to day and that people change their behavior to conform to the “thing to do”. Herd behavior is a common phenomenon that has occurred throughout history. A strong example of this is Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler ordered the imprisonment, torture, and murder of millions of Jewish people as well as others who were deemed undesirable. Opposition to Hitler was ruthlessly suppressed. Cormier uses the character of Archie in a similar demagogue position in the story. Archie is the Vigils member who devises the whole plan of having Jerry refuse the chocolates. He creates a whole campaign against Jerry when Jerry continues to refuse to sell the chocolates despite Vigil orders to sell. Archie arranges the unfair boxing match between Jerry and Janza at the end of the book in order to ensure that Jerry gets a public beating for his defiance. A modern day example of herd behavior can be seen in the controversial Church of Scientology. Leah Remini (a celebrity and former church member) has written a book (Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology 2015) and is currently airing a documentary (Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath 2016 - present) about the Church of Scientology. According to Remini, the church expects complete and
Open Document