So I meant to post this earlier, but I was distracted by terrible, vicious sleep.
I did however, finish “the Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier.
It was fantastic. The ending brought me round full circle; I felt attached and entrenched in the fate of Jerry Renault- the kid who refuses to sell chocolates.
I actually didn’t realize I was so invested in him until the first time he is beat up. I had an inkling when he becomes even more resolute to not sell them- after the defacement of his locker, but until that point I was biding my time.
This whole book is like watching a train wreck, if you will forgive me of that cliche.
I however, do not have a feeling of depression that those reviewers were talking about. Perhaps it is because I came prepared, having the plot spoiled for me.
Or perhaps, the way the momentum rose in this book, was exactly how I picture Nazi Germany starting out.
It begins with a secret society gradually growing large enough to be recognized, getting larger until it’s a force that can no longer be denied. People are both awed and terrified of going against it- they use psychological and physical warfare. The system always moves, always has a target, always has an enemy.
This is how Fascism works. The system must always be moving- but not in the manner of progression, it never moves forward, just moving inside of itself.
It’s like an atom, give or take.
The nucleus in the center, is unchanging- it has to stay the same to be stable. So Archie Costello, the Assigner can never be taken down. He must maintain ultimate authority, even when others might wish him to fail. Even if others hate him, they will carry out his whim.
He is surrounded then by his innermost ring- the Vigils, and they remain close, but not to close. They can still be taken out, like when Archie informs Brother Jaques about the trigger, and the trick backfires on Obie. They are the charges of the atom, balancing the nucleus. Momentum is created with paranoia. The Vigils despise each other, but recognizing the power each other has, they remain checked and balanced.
On the ring outside of them is everybody who wants to be in the Vigils. However, the Vigils are elite, and so you create momentum of inducting new members, and ousting others. Emile Janza, for example.
On the outermost ring is everybody else who are not involved and cannot be involved. They create momentum too, because they can be picked off and “assigned.” They are not the enemy, but they can be bullied into submission. They will work for the system, or not speak against it because it means they are off the hook such as Brian Cochran and Goubert.
And of course, the most stabilizing agent- the one that makes sure the center charge remains, is the enemy. You maintain motion by always having a target, by directing attention outside of the system, which operates on terror and domination. You give the people an outside thing to hate and despise- Jerry Renault. And so they focus their fear and paranoia and destroy their target.
Or in the case of Nazi Germany- Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, etc.
As long as the system stays in motion, people can effectively be held at bay from acting on their better consciences. Their attention is averted. There is a clear enemy. When Goubert decides to not correct his numbers from 50 boxes of chocolates sold to 27, he is afraid to make waves. He is both tired and broken because he has already bent against his will- so when he has the chance to change the momentum, to change the direction, he does not.
And yes, this is a children’s book, so some things are a bit played out.
However, and let me try to say this right, the reason why this book is an American classic, is because it shows us in vivid detail how the action or inaction of good people can halt, or add momentum to rising evil.
For me is is a very powerful idea indeed. There are so many times when the suffering of an innocent could have been avoided- if only one person had spoken out, but no one does.
The moral is- speak out, speak out, speak out!
I am glad to have some momentum back in my banned book project. There are changes happening in my life and thoughts- and for the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful.
Maybe it’s the books, maybe it’s the job that I don’t hate. Who knows.
Time to scratch out another book on the list.