Study Guide: The Wave by Todd Strasser - BookNotes

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THE WAVE: PLOT SUMMARY / ONLINE NOTES

CHAPTER THREE

Summary

David Collins had already finished his lunch when Laurie joins him. Together, they watch as Robert Billings sits at a lunch table and the two girls already sitting there leave. They wonder if anything is wrong with Robert, but Laurie is still thinking about the Nazi footage. She loses her appetite, leaving David to eat most of her lunch. Amy Smith and Brian Ammon join them. David is part of the football team and Brian is the team's quarterback; he has two trays of food, wanting to gain weight before the game against Clarkstown. Laurie asks if they have a chance of winning this game; David isn't sure since the team is so disorganized and unmotivated. David then asks about calculus, as he wants to prepare for studying engineering in college.

All four students watch Robert Billings as he reads a Spider-Man comic book. Brian mentions that Robert slept through the film, and David points out Laurie is still upset over what they saw. Annoyed, Laurie takes Amy with her to the Grapevine office. Once there, Amy smokes by the office windows in case a teacher comes by. The two girls talk about David, who wants to be a computer engineer. Amy asks Laurie why she doesn't just marry him; Laurie detects a bit of jealousy, as Amy has also been seeking a boyfriend on the football team. The girls panic when there's a knock on the door by someone claiming to be Principal Owens. It turns out to be Grapevine reporters Carl Block and Alex Cooper playing one of their jokes. When Laurie asks them about their latest assignments for the paper, both beat a hasty retreat.

Notes

The Spider-Man comic is used as shorthand to indicate Robert Billings' arrested development. While the novel begins with Laurie resisting smoking, Amy smokes in this chapter - this contrasts the self-control each girl has, which in turn is reflected in their ability to resist The Wave. The humor of Carl and Alex is anti-authoritarian, as seen by their pretense as Principal Owens. However, they ironically reinforce the rule of authority, as their charade stops Amy from breaking the rule against smoking.


CHAPTER FOUR

Summary

Ben Ross is troubled by his inability to answer his students' questions on why the Germans allowed the Holocaust to happen. On the way home, he stops at the library to take out books on the subject. It seems that historians had no real answer about the acquiescence of the German people, leaving Ross to wonder if it had to be experienced to be understood - and further, if it could be recreated in class as a kind of experiment.

When Ben's wife Christy returns home after 11 PM that evening, he is still deep in his books. Christy is used to Ben becoming utterly absorbed in whatever latest topic he is studying, forgetting everything else around him. Ben explains to Christy his dilemma of being unable to answer a student's question and his suspicion that the lesson is best experienced rather than explained. Christy goes to bed, unsure if Ben will get any sleep himself.

Notes

The monomania displayed by Ben is academic in nature, but it crosses over into the political realm by the topic he chooses to study. The question of how the German people allowed the Third Reich and then the Holocaust to happen is a weighty one, and not answered in a satisfactory manner in this book. Contrary to the implications of this chapter, historians have indeed traced a wide variety of reasons for the rise of Hitler and what occurred under his rule, including the unfair treatment of Germany at the end of World War I (particularly with the Treaty of Versailles), a resulting economic depression that left the nation particularly vulnerable to Adolf Hitler's influence, and a centuries-long history of deep-seated anti-Semitism in Europe. It seems that what Ross is seeking out is the more nebulous question of the appeal of mob mentality, as well as the allure held by Nazism in particular that is psychologically driven and has attained a fetishistic nature in certain circles post-World War II.


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