Cory in Boy’s Life and Jerry in The Chocolate War are examples of characters in a bildungsroman
Many high school students read coming of age novels, or bildungsromans such as: Kidnapped, The Outsiders, To Kill a Mocking Bird, and many others. What these students, however, do not realize while reading these novels is that the protagonist of the story is growing and changing throughout the novel in many ways. Many of these changes are results of conflicts, which most teens face throughout their lives. In Boys Life, by Robert McCammon, and The
Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier, the male protagonist encounter many conflicts, in which most teens can relate to in everyday life. These two books are examples of bildungsromans because both, Cory and Jerry change throughout the novel because of their mental tests and physical abuses.
The male protagonist, Cory and Jerry, encounter many mental tests, which affect the boy’s views on life. The most obvious test which shows this is the dealing with a close one’s death. In Boy’s Life, Cory shows this best the way he completely changes his views on life and especially faith, when his best friend Davy Ray dies. A good example is when Cory says “I wasn’t sure of anything anymore: not life, not afterlife, not God, not goodness.” (p454).
Cory begins to understand that he must have faith. In The Chocolate War, when Jerry’s mother dies he begins to look at life in a new way wondering if he is wasting away his life. He wonders if he is a part of anything special, or if he is “sleepwalking” through life (p20). He later thinks of this often when he thinks about disturbing the universe. He also shares very little intimacy with his father after his mother’s death and looks at him in a different way. When Jerry looks at his father one night, he wonders if his father is wasting away his life with everyday ordinary routines, and if he is turning out to be like his father (p52). The deaths involved in these two books challenge Cory and Jerry’s beliefs and help them to grow and to mature into young adults.
Because of the boy’s determination, they are challenged in many ways.
This is best shown in The Chocolate War with Jerry’s decision not to sell the
Reverend Grandpa in Cold Sassy Tree
Reverend Grandpa in Cold Sassy Tree
Cold Sassy Tree In life, people look for direction. Everyone in the world needs a helping hand. Some people turn to one another while others turn to forces, which are of great power. People turn to great forces such as God. There are many people who live according to the rules of God, out of the bible or whatever book they consider holy. So therefore, these people are directed in leading a better life. In the brilliant novel Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns, Grandpa is such a person. Whenever Grandpa faces an obstacle, he turns to God.
Grandpa turns to God whenever he needs true help. Grandpa is a type of person who is mild, witty, and very religious. Grandpa uses religion to solve many of his problems. At the beginning of the story, Miss Love was the target of gossip. The whole entire town viewed her as an outsider and couldn’t understand why she married Grandpa, especially after his wife recently died. After Grandpa elopes, he comes back to the house and finds a group of people mourning the sad death. He introduces his new bride and then out of no where, Grandpa says, “Lord above, afore this gatherin’ assembled, I ask You to bless the memory of Miss Mattie Lou” (Page 99). Everyone stood in silence as Grandpa continued the prayer. Then all of the sudden, people also began to pray along with Grandpa. This is amazing. Grandpa used the power of God to divert the feelings of the crowd. It is very sly of Grandpa to do that. Later on, Will is talking to Grandpa about his frightening encounter with the train. Will asks Grandpa if “[he is] alive [because] of God’s will” (Page 97). Obviously, Grandpa responds with wise words. He tells Will that “God gave [him] a brain” (Page 97). This shows that Grandpa believes God doesn’t do everything. He believes God only does major things. He isn’t there twenty four hours a day but God gives one certain abilities which help at all times. Furthermore, Grandpa starts to give Will a sermon. Grandpa tells him that “[One] don’t git thangs jest by astin’” (Page 98). This shows that Grandpa is an well-educated man who understands the importance of God. He doesn’t even waste his time asking for petty little things because he knows that God would not listen.