Study Guide: The Wave by Todd Strasser - BookNotes|
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THE WAVE: BOOK SUMMARY / LITERATURE ANALYSIS
Ben Ross begins his experiment with a slogan and three rules, supposedly
derived from the slogan's premise. However, the broadness of the slogan
makes these rules arbitrary under closer analysis. Any rule that imposes
more control over the students and their behavior could just as easily
have been applied, and other slogans could be used as easily to justify
the rules chosen. Also note that Ben tells Christy he's ready to move
on with new lessons the next day - his experiment had run its initial
course, supposedly. However, this is contradicted by the fact that his
students haven't truly learned the point of his exercise in discipline:
that it shows how easily people can be indoctrinated, as they supposedly
were in pre-World War II Germany. Whether or not he is lying to just her
or to himself as well is unclear.
Arriving late for class the next day, Ben Ross is surprised to find his students observing the same disciplined posture and silence from the drills. Mr. Ross decides to take it further and introduces a second slogan to the class, STRENGTH THROUGH COMMUNITY. He explains this slogan as the importance of being part of something bigger than oneself. He also creates a symbol, a wave, and a matching salute by which the class should greet one another. He drills the student over this new information and instructions.
During football practice after school, Eric is skeptical of David wanting
to introduce the entire team to The Wave. However, Brian Ammon is scared
of facing Clarkstown's massive linebackers and is willing to give it a
try. Deutsch, the junior who is second-string quarterback, taunts his
rivals and offers to take Brian's place in the game, leading to a fight
between these rivals. David breaks up the fight and sees it as proof they're
not working as a team. At Eric's prodding, he tells the other players
about The Wave.
The Wave already begins to take on its own power, as Ben Ross finds
the first slogan still on the board and the students still showing rigorous
discipline. As leader, he did not ask for this - however, seeing these
things in effect, he decides to feed The Wave further with a new slogan
and rules. Also, observe how Eric and David switch roles in this scene
as skeptic and believer in The Wave. David first wants to introduce The
Wave to the football team, with Eric doubting; but when it's time to do
exactly that, David is unsure and must be prodded by Eric to do so. This
shows David's ambivalence towards The Wave, as well as Eric's desire for
a straightforward solution to the knotty problem of team disunity.
Over dinner, Laurie grows bored with her father's usual golf stories and tells her parents about history class. Laurie's mother, Midge Saunders, is concerned about The Wave being too militaristic, but Laurie assures her it's a positive experience. Mr. Saunders thinks any increase in discipline and cooperation is an improvement. He brings up the Founding Fathers as an example, while Mrs. Saunders counters that people should not be afraid to act as individuals. Mrs. Saunders then goes on to remind Laurie that what's popular isn't always what's right. Mr. Saunders asks about David, who often drops by in the evening. Laurie tells him David is studying history for tomorrow.
Though it's Ben's turn to cook, he brings home Chinese take-out because
he's too busy preparing for his class. Ben is amazed at how well the students
have taken to The Wave and how much better they behave. Christy asks him
how far he's going to take the experiment and Ben answers that he doesn't
know, admitting that he's also getting caught up in the process, describing
it as "contagious". Christy jokingly warns her husband that
it may be himself who's the guinea pig of the experiment.
Laurie's parents play out the arguments for and against The Wave, casually
expanding it to the larger issues of individualism versus community values.
Because they are older, they also bring a wider range of experience and
knowledge to the debate, as seen by the references to the workplace and
Founding Fathers, as well as Midge Saunders' later comparison to cults.
The sharing of chores in the Ross household shows how progressive they
are as a couple, as this was not as common at that time as it is today.
Christy's warning to Ben shows her awareness of the negative impact that
Ben's monomania can have, especially in this particular case.
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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on The Wave".
. 09 May 2017