by Todd Strasser
The Wave Theme of Power
Ever hear the phrase "power corrupts"? Well, The Wave explores various examples of corrupt power; and in fact, the background of the story involves one of the most well-known examples of corrupt power in history: Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. But it gets personal, too. In teaching his students about this historical event, Ben (accidentally) abuses his power as a teacher by exposing the kids to a dangerous experiment. And of course, this abuse of power trickles down to the students. But don't worry, power isn't always negative in The Wave. Laurie Saunders, editor of the school paper, actually uses her power as a journalist to bring the truth of The Wave to light. Bottom line: not all power corrupts – you just have to be careful.
Questions About Power
- Why do Ben's students give him power? Why do they trust him and follow him so blindly?
- Why does Robert feel powerless at school?
- What are some examples of abuses of power in the novel? What about in your own life?
- How do you feel about the power relationships in your school? In what situations do you feel powerless at school? In what situations do you feel powerful?
- Why does David think The Wave will give the football team more power? Does it?
Chew on This
Ben had just as much power over his students before The Wave, he just didn't realize it.
Unlike Robert, Ben never let the power of The Wave go to his head: he was totally in control of himself the whole time.