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Archie Costello

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Archie Costello is the primary antagonist and one of the main characters of the 1974 young adult novel The Chocolate War and its film adaption, as well as the novel's sequel.


Archie is described as having an uncanny ability to manipulate people: "he could dazzle you with his brilliance" and "disgust you with his cruelties...that had nothing to do with pain or violence but were somehow even worse." As the "Assigner" of The Vigils, which is his underground school organization, Archie is the real power behind The Vigils (as opposed to the group's puppet president, football player John Carter) and eventually directs his devilish ingenuity against the protagonist, Jerry. He annoys his irritable but basically submissive stooge, Obie, with his "phony hip moods." Archie delivers the first major assignment of the novel to The Goober — loosening the screws in all the furniture in Brother Eugene's classroom.

His crucial role is established when Brother Leon invokes, through Archie, The Vigils' support for the upgraded annual chocolate sale. Archie provides an unwholesome line of communication between the adults and the students. He is not above taking advantage of this position to gain personal amusement at his fellow Vigils' expense, as when a collective assignment against Brother Jacques backfires. Obie and the rest of the class are assigned to stand up and do a jig whenever Jaques utters the word "environment"; Jacques, clearly tipped off in advance by Archie, goes out of his way to use the word as often as possible, with exhausting results. This episode further exacerbates Obie's antagonism towards Archie. Archie also blackmails another pupil, Emile Janza, by pretending to have a photo of Janza masturbating in the toilet.

Archie is eventually persuaded by Brother Leon that pressure must be brought to bear on Jerry to force him to sell chocolates. He begins, in conjunction with Emile Janza, by arranging to have Jerry accused of being a "queer," and then beaten up. He then stage-manages the climactic final encounter of the novel, a boxing match between Jerry and Emile. At the end Archie unrepentantly admits to Obie that he tipped Brother Leon off about the boxing match, so that Leon could stand at a distance and watch.

In Beyond the Chocolate War

In the sequel Beyond the Chocolate War, Archie demands one of his Vigil grunts, Bunting, to rape (albeit unsuccessfully) Obie's new girlfriend, Laurie. Subsequent to this, Laurie and Obie's relationship is ruined due to the incident and Laurie is forced to leave Obie. Obie is out for revenge, but his plan involving a trick backfires and Archie hands over the leadership of the Vigils with his ruthlessly cool reputation still intact.

The story ends with Archie giving the role of the "Assigner" to Bunting, but only on one condition: Emile Janza becomes the Vigil's second-in-command. At the end of the year, Janza suggests to Bunting many changes to the way Archie ran the Vigils, including the use of physical force rather than psychological force, taxing students, and the selling of marijuana and pills. Bunting agrees, not knowing that it was Archie recommending all of the various illegal activities. Archie thus engineers the "ruin" of Trinity in coming years.

Despite all this, it seems that Archie's plans could have possibly backfired, as the Vigils' secret society would not be able to function well with Emile Janza as the second-in-command. This may or may not have lead to the eventual end of The Vigils all together.

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