by Todd Strasser
The Wave Chapter 17 Summary
- 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.
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