by Todd Strasser
The Wave Theme of Identity
During Ben's too-creative experiment, the students at Gordon High (and Teacher Ben himself) undergo drastic changes in identity – all in a few short days. David goes from devoted boyfriend to jerk-store bully (and back again!) and Robert goes from total outcast to leader of the pack. In the end, it seems like only students who have a strong sense of personal identity – like confident Laurie Saunders – are able to resist joining The Wave. Unfortunately, in The Wave, staying true to one's identity leads to bullying and threats from other students. And in the real world, this can lead to devastating consequences.
Questions About Identity
- Which characters in The Wave undergo the most drastic identity changes? Are these permanent changes or just temporary bouts of insani– ahem, confusion?
- Why do you think Robert creates the position of bodyguard for himself? How does that affect his identity?
- What happens to Ben when he becomes Wave leader? Does he truly change as a person?
- Why is Laurie able to stay true to herself in the face of The Wave? What about the other characters who do so?
Chew on This
David's identity crisis was a temporary issue: now that he realizes how totally nutso he was being, he'll have a stronger sense of self in the future.
Forget about the students in The Wave. This novel makes us think about the fate of the Jews in the Holocaust, whose identity cost them their lives.