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Ben is amazed as he walks toward the auditorium. The Wave members had completely organized this rally in just a few hours. That's quite a feat.
Robert, all spiffed up in a suit and tie, meets Ben. Ben tells him that all the doors need to be locked and guarded during the rally.
Christy comes up to Ben and wishes him good luck. She believes in him, and he wishes he believed in himself just as much.
Robert gives Ben the go: all the doors are now locked and guarded.
Ben walks up onto the stage and stands between two big TVs. The crowd goes wild as they chant The Wave mottos.
Once the room as calmed down, Ben tells them, "In a moment, our national leader will address us" (17.22). Then he tells Robert to turn on the TVs.
Meanwhile, Laurie and David are trying to find a way into the rally.
Inside the auditorium, the students are getting anxious. The TV screens are blank.
As he watches his students, Ben realizes how much they want a leader, someone to tell them what to do.
The biggest lesson he wants them to learn is this: "to question thoroughly, never put your faith in anyone's hands blindly" (17.28).
Suddenly, one student has had too much: he jumps up and says, "There is no leader, is there!" (17.29).
Without hesitation, two guards remove that student out of the auditorium. During the confusion, David and Laurie manage to make their way in.
They watch as Ben tells the other students that there is a Wave leader.
Right on cue, Alex Cooper turns on the projector and Carl Block opens the stage curtains so the screen is visible.
"There is your leader!" (17.32).
There are sounds of shock from the crowd.
On the projection screen is a giant image of Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazis.
We'll let that one sit for a minute.
Okay, ready? Here we go: Laurie recognizes it as the film that Ben had shown in class last week. She's excited.
Now it's time for Ben to break the news: there is no National Wave Youth Movement, and no leader.
But at one time, there was such a movement, and Hitler was the leader.
He asks the students if they now understand where they were headed: "How far would you have gone? Take a look at your future!" (17.35).
Some of the Nazi soldiers on the film are even younger than the students in the auditorium.
Ben continues: "You traded your freedom for equality. But, you turned your equality into superiority over non-Wave members. You accepted the group's will no matter who you had to hurt to do it." (17.37).
He says they would have all made excellent Nazis(!). Now maybe they can understand how the German people allowed Hitler to murder millions of people.
He hopes that the members of The Wave will remember this lesson forever and never again blindly follow a leader.
Yikes. Now that's a doozy.
Realizing that it sounds like they are the ones to blame for all of this, Ben switches the topic to himself.
He says he's very sorry. He knows that this has hurt them. He wanted to teach them something important, but things went further than he ever imagined they could.
And you know what? They aren't the only ones who learned a lesson. Ben, too, got something out of this: he had become way too involved in his own experiment and his role as leader.
The students in the auditorium are obviously shocked. Some are even crying.
Ben tells Laurie and David that they will use the next class period to talk about what happened, and then go back to the usual history class.
He says he's going to skip this lesson in his future classes. Good call, Ben.
Ben watches until all the students have left. He is so grateful it's over, and that it ended the way it did.
He's about to leave, but he hears someone crying. It's Robert.
Poor kid, he thinks. He goes up to Robert and compliments him on the way he looks. Then he asks if Robert wants to grab something to eat: they need to talk.
And that, Shmoopers, is the end. Be sure and check out "What's Up With the Ending" for some discussion.