Study Guide: The Wave by Todd Strasser - BookNotes|
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THE WAVE BY TODD STRASSER: CHAPTER SUMMARY / ONLINE NOTES
High school social hierarchies are established quickly: David Collins
is among the elite and called upon by Ross to help set up the projector,
while Robert Billings is derided for asking an obvious question. In his
internal monologue, even Ross considers Robert the “class loser”. It's
worth noting that in this novel, the elite of the high school hierarchy
excel in both studies and extracurricular activities: the split between
gifted athletes (“jocks”) and gifted scholars (“nerds”) is never explored
extensively, though Brian Ammon is one such example. For that matter,
rebels - “cool” kids resistant who earn respect from their peers for opposing
authority figures in school - are not represented at all. In this way,
the social hierarchy of the novel is actually somewhat simpler than it
is in real life, where some students excel in only one aspect of high
school life (academic, extracurricular, social) but not in others.
Ben Ross' class is studying World War II and the film they're watching is about the Nazi concentration camps. Ross speaks of Hitler's rise to power, anti-Semitism, and the Final Solution. The class is visibly shocked by the millions who died in this manner, which doesn't surprise Ross given their comfortable middle class upbringing. When asked if all Germans were Nazis, Ross answered that less than 10% were party members; asked why no one tried to stop the Nazis, Ross explains that most Germans claimed to have not known about the camps. The students scoff at this claim, adding that they wouldn't let such a thing happen if they were in that situation.
When class ends, David asks Laurie to go to lunch with him. However,
she first talks to Mr. Ross further about how the Nazi atrocities could
have happened. Ross then stops Robert Billings, his most problematic student,
and warns Robert that if he doesn't start participating in class, he'll
fail. Robert doesn't seem to care, and Ross knows it's because he lives
under the shadow of his older brother Jeff - a popular athlete and student
in his time - and had given up on trying. Ross tries to reach out to Robert
nonetheless, but it doesn't work.
Robert's lack of response to Mr. Ross' warning is an interesting contrast
to his later - and quite sudden - adherence to the discipline of The Wave.
Ross threatens Robert with failure, but he already considers himself a
failure; in contrast, The Wave assures Robert power and success, more
carrot than stick. In a sense, Robert is clearly saved by The Wave and
the sense of empowerment it bestows him.
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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on The Wave".
. 09 May 2017