Psychological Manipulation In Archie Costello's The Chocolate War

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You cannot tell them what I did, because you will fall with me. You must follow my orders, because I will make your life hell if you don’t and heaven if you do. You are guilty, and no matter what you say you will be found guilty. You must comply, the students, the headmaster, everyone is on my side, and I will stop at nothing to make you comply. From Mr. Trent to Harry Flowers, Mr. Hairston to Archie Costello, Robert Cormier makes strong use of psychological manipulators to drive some of his main characters close to or past a point of breaking that often give his writings their dark tones.
The issue of manipulation is a keystone of the relationship between Harry Flowers and Buddy Walker in We All Fall Down, and serves to drive one of the three
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Costello is described in almost all character analysis performed on him as a by the book psychopath, authors at sparknotes, shmoop and novelguide all agree that Archie Costello uses power in a villainous fashion in an attempt to control Trinity high school without remorse or discrimination. He is stereotypically manipulative and evil. Descriptions of him used in the book are similar to those of Peter Wiggin, a character responsible for the psychological torment of the protagonist from Ender’s Game. Which, considering Wiggin managed to use his abilities to manipulate world leaders into eventual submission, is quite impressive and a testament to the abilities of Costello. Both are described as having a talent for finding the perfect thing to do or say to a person to hurt them the most and in the case of Archie this talent is used keep the Vigils in line, as well as the entire student and staff body. He is able to perceive how to gain the upper hand on Brother Leon during the beginning of the chocolate war by analyzing the Brother himself and discovering what he had done in order to try and make himself look good. After securing virtual amnesty from his crimes by manipulating Leon, he uses the secret society of the Vigils in a textbook cult fashion to dominate the school and more precisely, to attempt to dominate the…show more content…
Trent, who is the most out of place in this group of manipulators. His manipulation, like Archie’s was total and deliberate and served as the focus of the book, however his motivations and simply the nature of manipulation were comparably atypical. Mr. Trent was an interrogator who was charged with receiving the confession of a young Jason Dorrant for the murder of a little girl named Alicia Bartlett. Dissimilar to the other manipulators, Mr. Trent truly believes for at least the majority of his work that he is working toward the truth, and that his manipulation is for the good of society, but he also openly acknowledges that it is a manipulation. Cormier even dedicated multiple pages to describing the circumstances Mr. Trent created in the interrogation room to make his subjects more inclined to confession. However, his primary weapon was “the deal,” as was it the primary weapon of the author’s other characters. He made Jason believe that no matter what he would be convicted, and that the only way he could make it easier on himself was to take the deal; confession for a chance at a lesser charge. He made Jason the promise that all of the manipulators made their victims in Cormier’s writing: “you will fall, and complying to me is the only way to save yourself.” In this sense, it is evident that in yet another one of his stories, Cormier made use of the manipulator to drive one of his characters toward darkness. In this case the drive took young
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