In The Chocolate War, written by Robert Cormier, Archie Costello is the main antagonist who enjoys torturing his victims psychologically. In the novel he is portrayed as a manipulative and cunning person. Archie Costello is a character who is powerful enough to control the entire school. The novel shows how Archie can turn a bad situation for him into a good one – demonstrating just how powerful Archie is and how he can use it to his advantage. In fact, his power seemed so destructive to other characters that many try to stop him but he is always one step ahead. His assignments – cruel assignments, had affected his victims emotionally, showcasing that Archie Costello can control the ‘entire school in the palm of his hand’ because it was his assignments that enabled them power. Archie is a manipulative and very clever person that was capable of turning a losing situation for him into a winning one. He demonstrated this by when he received a warning from Brother Leon. “I’ll make it clear, Archie. If the sale goes down the drain, you and The Vigils also go down the drain.” The situation looked bleak for him because students weren’t selling chocolates and instead were going up against The Vigils. They had found a poster that had said “Screw the Chocolates and Screw The Vigils” pg.183. Even Frankie Rollo, a freshman was not imitated by Archie and so Carter used physical punishment to get the message clear to him. This showed how weak Archie’s and The Vigil’s influence were getting. Realising this, Archie with some quick thinking, turned the tables in a matter of time. He managed to get all 19,950 boxes sold except Jerry’s fifty and in the end he even had Brother Leon on his side. This shows that Archie can hold “the entire school within his palm” and shows how he is always a winner, “I am Archie. I cannot lose.” The succession of his thinking portrays just how perturbing and powerful Archie’s influence can be and was one of the many reasons why other characters had tried to stop him.
Archie’s power was capable of doing destructive things, in recognition of this, some characters tried to stop him but knowing how cunning Archie was, he was always one step ahead. This shows what a complex and powerful character he was. One incident included: Obie giving the black box to Archie before the match between Emile and Jerry, making Archie draw out two marbles in front of everyone as “The black box was his nemesis.” Archie needed control, because someone realised that the assigner could get in the deep end if there wasn’t some kind of control and the black box provided that control. The idea of having other characters try to stop Archie shows just how capable he was of handling power and realising this, other characters tried to undermine him in controlling the school.
Archie was in charge of the school because it was his assignments that made The Vigils so powerful. Archie’s cruel assignments hit their mark and he said to Carter “people are two things: greedy and cruel” stating to him that it was acceptable for his assignments to go on because although it was cruel, it was still able to maintain an air of interest from admirers of The Vigils. The assignments had his victims into a state of worry, “the way he could disgust you with his cruelties, strange offbeat cruelties of his that had nothing to do with pain or violence but were somehow even worse.” Although Archie disliked violence, he used his assignments to produce violence against others. His victims had no idea that it was Archie’s favourite thing to do: to “intimidate someone – get them worrying”. The Goober and Brother Eugene were among the most affected. The assignment took place in Room Nineteen and the Goober and Brother Eugene were never the same after that. Goober had quit football and even his passion for running. He wasn’t going to take up track next spring. Brother Eugene also had the same experience, only that he had been affected more deeply, “they say Brother Eugene’s never been the same since Room Nineteen. They say he’s broken up over it. Can’t eat or sleep. The shock.” The nature of his assignments showed how intimidating and clever he was in scheming them and essentially, it was the fear that he created that had led to The Vigils to have so much influence and power.
Archie Costello is an intelligent and cunning character in The Chocolate War who uses his manipulative and intimidating character to control the entire school. He is a very capable character; who was able to turn a bleak situation into a situation where he won. People recognised his power and in turn, had tried to stop him. But knowing how Archie was always a step ahead, their schemes had never worked. His assignments were an example of his power, and essentially without him in the picture The Vigils wouldn’t have much influence at all. He was as he said: “I am Archie. I cannot lose.”
By: Dara Bouphasavanh 10P.