Conformity in Society: The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

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Conformity is defined as a type of cultural influence involving a change in belief or behavior in order to fit in with a group. First studied in 1932 conformity can take on many different forms and is part of our everyday lives. Conformity can be introduced via peer pressure and/or accepted social norms. Both Hook and Anzaldua talk about conforming, economically and linguistically respectively, to society. In the book The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier the main protagonist, Jerry Renault, defies a powerful gang in school, called the Vigils, and must decide if conforming to their wishes is better than standing up against them and “defying the universe”. Both Hook and Anzaldua point out conformity in society based on pressures to meet various linguistic and economic norms. However, by understanding how our culture puts these pressures on individuals, much like how Jerry Renault discovers how the Vigils pressure people, it becomes easier for people to understand they don’t have to force themselves into a mold that doesn’t fit their language, culture, and/or economic standing. In Hook’s essay she focuses on economic misrepresentation and conformity. She uses several examples to show the audience that her own family would be one that is considered poor or working class. When Hook was accepted to Stanford University with scholarships her parents wanted to know how Hook would pay for other expenses such as travel and books. Hook also mentions her father worked as a janitor, trying to spread that money out to cover for a family with seven children forced them into a poor working class economic situation. Despite these experiences Hook recalls how she was always taught that being poor wasn’t a disgrace and personal worth wasn’t tied to m... ... middle of paper ... ...ne person doesn’t agree with Jerry, if even one person thinks it is worth it to disturb the universe and challenge the way things are, then that is a solid start and only good things will come because of it. Works Cited Anzaldua, Gloria. “How to Tame a Wild Tongue.” From Inquiry to Academic Writing, Ed. Stuart Greene, 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2012. 373-382. Print. bell, hooks [Gloria Watkins]. “Seeing and Making Culture: Representing the Poor.” From Inquiry to Academic Writing, Ed. Stuart Greene, 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2012. 432-437. Print. Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War. New York: Random House Children’s Books, 1974. Print. Fish, Jefferson M. "Looking in the Cultural Mirror." How Cultures Make People Conform. N.p., 18 Dec. 2012. Web. 16 Mar. 2014. McLeod, Saul. "What Is Conformity?" Simply Psychology. N.p., 2007. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

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