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The Chocolate War

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Young Adult Writing Style of Robert Cormier's

Novels

Literature has existed as far back as man can remember it. It was created by the necessity of mankind for it, whether it was for recording history like The Bible, making news such as in newspapers, or simply writing a story for the enjoyment of the reader or to express a certain point. It is through literature that a lot of people have made a living, and some have even become world famous, each in their own unique way.

One of those authors is the well known American author, Robert Cormier. He is an example of those authors who write novels for the readers to enjoy, while expressing some of his ideas through them. Cormier writes for everybody to enjoy, however, it is the young adult audience to whom he owes much of his success. The Chocolate War and I Am the Cheese, show his unique writing style that captivates young adult readers, through language, characters, different genres, and other literary devices such as narration style and novel structure.

The following pages will discuss the writing style of Cormier, that makes him so successful with young adults, especially with this novel. First it will look at the difficulties and way of life of those young readers for which he writes. Then they will examine the different ways through which he is able to capture the young adults'

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attention. Finally they will discuss the structure of his novels and how his writing style

connects to it, making the novels so intriguing for young adults.

In today's society, and any other society, teens deal with a lot of issues, from drugs, to peer pressure, from corruption, to loneliness, etc. Cormier is conscious of this and uses this when writing his novels. He is an observer of the way life works and the problems that young adults have. He understands that adolescents are vulnerable , and that innocence does not protect one from evil, that anyone is vulnerable at any age (Stines). The Chocolate War, originated when Cormier saw his son come home from school with a box-full of chocolates he had to sale. Cormier's son was allowed not to sell the chocolates, and the next day returned them, without any opposition from the faculty. Then began to wonder, what would happen if someone had opposed that his son returned the chocolates? What if his son had rebelled against tradition.... What if this?, or what if that? Cormier played with this idea until he came out with the final product, The Chocolate War (Stines).

I Am the Cheese, was also originated from Cormier's study on society and the way it affects the young adult. After reading in a magazine about the U.S. Relocation Program, he wondered what kinds of troubles would a child like that have? What would he go through? What would he think? What would he do? Cormier pondered for months and studied well the program and what teens go through, until he wrote: I Am the Cheese (Stines).

When writing novels, like those two, Cormier inclines more towards the drama genre, however, he includes bits and pieces of other genres within the drama. For

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instance, The Chocolate War falls into the drama genre, however it has some other genres in it, like suspense. Suspense is seen throughout much of the dominates much of The Chocolate War, especially when The Vigils came into the scene. They were a gang if students which used violence to coerce the students to do "assignments" and through that violence, managed to impugn enough horror in the students to cause a suspenseful aura whenever they appeared. Even Jerry suffered from it, one day at a meeting with them, after refusing to sell the chocolates once again. Archie, the leader of The Vigils was the one that caused the most fear since he was the leader and that did not exclude Jerry. "Now, he [Archie] just watched the kid Renault, looking as if he was ready to faint with fright, his face pale and eyes wide with dread, and Archie having fun with him" (Chocolate War 171). Cormier uses this mix in genres with expertise, to capture the readers attention and as a method to involve them more in the story. Another example of suspense in the novel is when Goober was loosening the screws of the chairs in one of the rooms, as an assignment of The Vigils:

A noise from the corridor. That was another thing Ñ* it was spooky. All kinds of noises. The walls spoke their own creaky language, the floors crackled, motors hummed somewhere, the humming almost human. Enough to scare guy to death. He hadn't been this scared since he was just a kid and woke up in the middle of the night calling for his mother. Thump. There Ñ* another noise. He looked with dread toward the doorway, not wanting to look but unable to resist the temptation, remembering his old nightmare (Cormier 56).

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In I Am the Cheese, Cormier once again used the drama genre, however, he also used mystery within the story. The story begins and develops, as well as the drama aspect

of it, a boy named Adam, riding the bike, the things he did in the past, the people he meets, etc. At the same time, the mystery starts to develop as well. There are flashbacks and the boy talks about his past, although the reader never quite knows what the boy is talking about until the end, because in those flashbacks there were other flashbacks, puzzling the readers and intriguing them, for example:

A: It's as if I was born that night. I mean, became a person, a human being in my own right. Before that, nothing. Or those impressions again-

lights-smell-perfume, the perfume my mother always wore, lilac. Nothing else. And then that night-

(12-second interval.)

T: Tell me about it.

He was in bed and the sheets were twisted around him and his body was hot, his eyes like raw onions, head aching. He lifted his head toward the door. The door was partially open, allowing a slant of feeble light into the room. (I Am the Cheese 17)

This flashback within flashback makes the reader crave the story more and read along, to find out what mystery is perturbing Adam throughout the story. This style dominates the novel and therefore the reader is intrigued throughout the book, trying to find out what or who is the villain, what is causing Adam all this trouble. Scott McLeod stated that this particular novel has more impact than his previous works because the "evil

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