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Disturbing the Universe

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Disturbing the Universe

The past, present, and future all have one thing in common: time. This measurement of countless seconds runs the universe, and seems almost to predetermine the lives of many individuals. Nevertheless, occasionally, there comes along a certain someone who ventures to defy this placid totality. An example of such individuals would be the character Jerry Renault, from Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War, and the rock-and-roll group known as The Beatles. Though no artist dared to change what was considered as pop music at the time, The Beatles defied the definition of traditional rock-and-roll. Bringing their a-cappella and funky haircuts, the Beatles affected millions of followers with "Beatlemania", and created the dreams of many artists to come.

"He could see his father's face reflected in his own features. He turned away." (Cormier 63). This was how Jerome E. Renault felt about his father James R. Renault. Jerry Renault, a freshman at Trinity High School, is trying out for the quarterback position on the freshman football team, and is faring poorly. As Jerry leaves, he feels pangs of loneliness. His mother died, the "brothers" at the school offer no help, his dad is rarely home, and his one and only friend is a shy, tall kid named Roland Goubert, also known as "The Goober" (Telgen 3).

The Vigils, a school gang, terrorize the oblivious students of Trinity, and order them to complete "assignments". The head affiliate of this group is Archie Costello, who is a nearly wholly unsympathetic senior who enjoys playing mind games with his victims, and providing the scare that gives the Vigils their reputation (Overview 1). At first, Jerry becomes the target of a Vigil campaign, and is forced to refuse Brother Leon's (the head brother) chocolate sale. This state of freedom seems to attract Jerry, and when his assignment is over, he still refuses to sell the chocolate, defying the Vigil's orders. This decision does not go well with the Vigils, and the consequences soon follow.

There are anonymous phone calls to his home. His locker, including his important poster, is ransacked. An art assignment is stolen. He is beaten up by Emile Janza and some of his cronies, and then is systematically ostracized (Telgen 7). He is treated as if he were a ghost, and not even his friend, "The Goober", is there to console him. Then, at last, due to the ruckus that he has caused, he is forced into a boxing match. At the match, Jerry is pummeled and left to bleed by Emile Janza. It is now when Jerry realizes that "doing your own thing is useless, when that 'thing' does not happen to coincide with the interests of those in power". He discovers that the modern world has a heart of darkness, and that "they don't want you to do your thing unless it happens to be their thing too." If you try, "they murder you". Jerry Renault realizes that disturbing the universe, per se, does not necessarily agree with the thoughts of other people. He realizes that "someone does violence to you but you're the one who has to hide, as if you're the criminal." (Telgen 8)

The Beatles found themselves in somewhat of the same situation when they first began producing music. The members of the band were Paul McCartney,



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