Facultad de historia, geografía y letras
Departamento de Inglés
Essay on Cormier’s The Chocolate War.
Student’s name : Claudio Varas
Teacher’s name : Hector Ortiz
Nowadays society regards warfare as an armed conflict between two or more countries orparties for largely political, religious or territorial interests. The word warfare conjures up images of opposing armies making use of weapons to attack and destroy their respective enemy. Thus, there a is widely view that warfare involves physical harm and destruction only. However, society remains quite oblivious of a form of unconventional conflict called psychological warfare. It is describedas “a way of destroying an individual without employing any physical means.” Psychological warfare aims at destroying an individual’s integrity, dignity, self-image, self-confidence and self-steem, among others, through the use of varied tactics and methods. Although looked over, this widespread phenomenom has become a recurring practice in our society, especially in educational institutions.Psychological warfare carried out in schools is called psychological bullying. It can be performed by either schoolmates or teachers, and the victims can be either students or teachers as well. The victims of psychological bullying are often chosen on the basis of their particular differences from the rest, in other words, whoever different from the average schoolgoer might be a potential victim ofbullying. The aftereffects of psichological bullying can last for a long time and may even result in death. Robert Cormier expands on this issue at lenght in his novel “The Chocolate War”, in which he does not only offer an insight into school bullying, but also draws attention to the fact that psychological bullying in school needs to be recognized as a paramount social issue. It is imperativethat school authorities, teachers, students and parents become aware of the tactics employed by bullies, the warning signs displayed by the victims and the aftereffects of getting bullied. Furthermore, they, and the whole society, ought to reflect on the factors that contribute to the permasiveness and impunity of this phenomenon and the role of the people who play a major part in preventingbullying from happening.
In the novel, Cormier outlines the characteristics which might help identify a potential victim of psychological bullying. Jerry Renault is portrayed as a rather shy fourteen year old freshman at Trinity. Since her mother has recently died jerry is regarded as the most suitable victim of psychological bullying. Jerry “who always looked a little worried, a little unsure ofhimself... who always seemed kind of bewildered” (p.67) is chosen to carry out an assignment on the basis that “he needs therapy, something to keep his mind off his poor dead mother” (p.11) Archie, the assigner and leader of The vigils, a gang of bullies, dislikes violence, at least physical violence, hence their assignments are excercises in the psychological rather than in the physical. He compelsJerry to refuse participating in the annual chocolate sale. As jerry carries on his assignment he is put under extreme psychological pressure, as it would be “so easy for him to be like the others, not to have to confront those terrible eyes every morning” (p.103) Unexpectedly, this experience has an enormous impact on Jerry’s personality, he does not want to be “a square boy” any longer. Hegradually begins to feel more confident and determined. By way of illustration, consider, first of all, the fact that Jerry takes a stand against brother leon when he humiliates a student during algebra class. In that moment “jerry hated brother Leon. He could taste the hate in his stomach—it was acid, foul, burning.” (p.36) Thus, Jerry finally protests “aw, let the kid alone” (p.36) Secondly, Jerry...