Beyond the Chocolate War
Goodreads ratings
3.6 / 5

"Beyond the Chocolate War" Summary

By Robert Cormier

young adult | 288 pages | Published in NaN

The school year is almost at an end, and the chocolate sale is past history.  But no one at Trinity School can forget The Chocolate War.Devious Archie Costello, commander of the secret school organization called the Vigils, stall has some torturous assignments to hand out before he graduates.  In spite of this pleasure, Archie is troubled by his right-hand man, Obie, who has started to move away from the Vigils.  Luckily, Archie knows his stooges will fix that.  But won't Archie be shocked when he discovers the surprise Obie has waiting for him?And there are surprises waiting for others.  The time for revenge has come to those boys who secretly suffered the trials of Trinity.  The fuse is set for the final explosion.  Who will survive?


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A high school student takes on a corrupt school administration in this gripping sequel to "The Chocolate War."


"Beyond the Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier is a compelling young adult novel and a sequel to "The Chocolate War." It delves into the complex themes of power, corruption, and rebellion, set within a high school environment. With its thought-provoking narrative, the book offers a gripping exploration of the consequences of standing up against authority and the struggle for personal identity.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview

The story takes place at Trinity High School, where the aftermath of the events in "The Chocolate War" still lingers. The protagonist, Jerry Renault, continues to navigate the challenges of adolescence, rebellion, and the abuse of power. The school is under the control of the Vigils, a secret group that manipulates students and teachers, and Brother Leon, a manipulative and corrupt figure.


The novel is primarily set within the confines of Trinity High School, a microcosm of society where power dynamics and moral dilemmas are at the forefront. The school serves as a backdrop for the characters' internal conflicts and external power struggles.

Main Characters

Jerry RenaultThe protagonist, a resilient and rebellious student grappling with the aftermath of the previous novel.
Archie CostelloThe devious and manipulative leader of the Vigils, using his influence to control others.
Brother LeonThe corrupt and authoritarian assistant headmaster at Trinity, wielding power over the students.
ObieJerry's friend, initially a member of the Vigils, but becomes disillusioned with the group's tactics.

Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-3: Aftermath of The Chocolate War

Jerry Renault faces ostracism and bullying as a result of his defiance in "The Chocolate War." The Vigils continue to exert control over the school, and Brother Leon manipulates the students to maintain his power.

Chapter 4-7: The Power Struggle Intensifies

Archie Costello, the leader of the Vigils, orchestrates cruel and manipulative tasks, further cementing his control. Jerry grapples with internal conflict as he questions his own actions and the impact of resistance.

Chapter 8-10: Rebellion and Betrayal

Obie, Jerry's friend and former Vigils member, becomes disillusioned with the group's tactics. Jerry's defiance against the oppressive forces intensifies, leading to betrayal and further isolation.

Chapter 11-13: Unraveling of Authority

The power dynamics within the school begin to unravel as students and faculty members confront the corruption and manipulation that have plagued Trinity. Jerry and Obie's rebellion gains momentum, leading to a confrontation with Brother Leon.

Main Events

The Vigils' Control

The Vigils, led by Archie Costello, exert control over the students through manipulative assignments and psychological tactics, showcasing the abuse of power within the school.

Jerry's Defiance

Jerry Renault's defiance against the oppressive forces at Trinity, including the Vigils and Brother Leon, serves as a catalyst for rebellion and self-discovery.

Betrayal and Redemption

Obie's journey from being a loyal Vigils member to questioning the group's methods reflects the themes of betrayal and redemption, highlighting the complexities of loyalty and morality.

Confrontation with Authority

The climax of the novel revolves around a confrontation between Jerry, Obie, and Brother Leon, exposing the corrupt nature of those in power and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of oppression.

Themes and Insights

Abuse of Power

The novel delves into the detrimental effects of the abuse of power, portraying the ways in which individuals and institutions manipulate and control others for their own gain.

Rebellion and Conformity

Through the characters' struggles, the novel explores the themes of rebellion and conformity, shedding light on the internal and external battles faced by adolescents in the quest for autonomy and identity.

Morality and Integrity

"Beyond the Chocolate War" prompts readers to contemplate the complexities of morality and integrity, as characters navigate the blurred lines between right and wrong in the face of societal pressure and corruption.

Identity and Self-Discovery

The novel delves into the journey of self-discovery and the formation of personal identity, as characters grapple with the expectations of others and the desire to assert their individuality.

Reader's Takeaway

"Beyond the Chocolate War" offers a thought-provoking exploration of power dynamics, rebellion, and the struggle for personal identity, set within the tumultuous landscape of high school. Readers are compelled to reflect on the complexities of morality, integrity, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of oppression.


In conclusion, Robert Cormier's "Beyond the Chocolate War" presents a gripping narrative that delves into the intricacies of power, corruption, and rebellion within the confines of a high school environment. Through its compelling characters and thought-provoking themes, the novel leaves a lasting impression on readers, prompting introspection and contemplation of the dynamics at play in both the microcosm of the school and the broader scope of society.

Beyond the Chocolate War FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'Beyond the Chocolate War'?

    The genre of 'Beyond the Chocolate War' is young adult fiction.

  2. Is 'Beyond the Chocolate War' a sequel?

    Yes, 'Beyond the Chocolate War' is a sequel to the novel 'The Chocolate War.'

  3. What is the main theme of 'Beyond the Chocolate War'?

    The main themes of 'Beyond the Chocolate War' include power, corruption, rebellion, and the struggles of adolescence.

  4. Can 'Beyond the Chocolate War' be read as a standalone novel?

    While it is a sequel, 'Beyond the Chocolate War' can be read as a standalone novel, but reading 'The Chocolate War' first provides additional context.

  5. What age group is the book suitable for?

    The book is suitable for young adult readers, typically ages 12 and up.