Analysis

The Vigil's meeting with Jerry in Chapter 25 is strangely ineffective. This is the first time The Vigils have not made their point or have come off as desperate rather than threatening. They do not do anything to Jerry physically, and they do not even threaten him. As Obie notices, they "ask" him to follow their directions. This is a tip off that Archie is in a tight spot, and the easiest resolution for him is to get Jerry to behave, quickly and quietly. Archie does not want anyone realizing that he used the word "asking." It is unclear if Jerry notices, but Obie does notice. This momentary weakness foreshadows a conflict between Obie and Archie at the end of the book.

In Chapter 26, Jerry wonders if he is a pervert. Cormier uses the word interestingly, first in regard to a phone call and the possibility of a sexual pervert, but then as someone who diverges from the norm. In that sense yes, Jerry is a pervert, both in regard to The Vigils and to the sale. The question is whether in this instance being a pervert is good or bad. Also, there is a possibility that Jerry can, at least in his situation, redefine what it means to be a pervert. Perhaps defying The Vigils and fighting the "evil" of the school will soon not be a perversion, but the common way. Now is the time for Jerry, the school, his schoolmates and The Vigils to decide what is abhorrent, what is a perversion and what is natural and right.

The Vigils seem vulnerable in Chapter 27. First, the student they pick for their next assignment is not scared of them, and is not willing to blindly and fearfully obey them. Jerry's refusal to comply with his assignment has given other students strength to stand up to The Vigils. The purpose of The Vigils is undermined if students do not fear them; The Vigils rely on being feared to function. Carter, knowing that this is a turning point for them, decides that the best remedy is to invoke good, old-fashioned fear. The meeting is indicative of their declining power, and they all know they must regain control immediately. Archie suggests that beating people up is not prudent and again he chooses psychological warfare. Carter challenges Archie, saying that the decision to become involved with the sale was a mistake—that decision was unilaterally Archie's. Not only is the future of The Vigils as a gang on the line, but the future of Archie as its leader is as well.

The way The Vigils infiltrate Jerry's life is reminiscent of the way the mafia might get revenge on an enemy. They are there are football practice, waiting to hit him with excruciating tackles, they call him at all hours of day and night, they break into his locker and trash it, they snatch his homework assignments and dispose of them. There is no refuge and no asylum. They are an invisible enemy, and even though Jerry knows who they are he cannot do anything to prevent them from trying to scare him. The Vigils elevate their offensive to an intangible level, giving them a distinct advantage because Jerry cannot see or hear them, and does not know when or where to expect them. The Vigils attempt to instill a pervasive fear in Jerry's life, making it simply not worth it for him to continue refusing to sell the chocolates. Jerry's resolve is tested more than ever, and the question for the remainder of the book is whether he will stand up to the abuse from The Vigils and if not, how he can fight it.