Study Guide

Martha in I Am the Cheese

By Robert Cormier


All we know about Martha is that she's Adam's aunt and she's a cloistered nun. The fact that she's a nun explains why Adam's mom was able to speak with her: she was separated enough from society that it wouldn't be a risk. Martha offers some early insight when she speaks about her isolated life as a nun. She says, "It's not simply a place to hide, Louise. You know that. Otherwise, there would be no point in being here, would there?" (13.17). This makes us wonder: is there a point in living if all you're doing is hiding? And on top of that, we sense a chiding, admonishing, and even condescending tone in Martha's voice (how's that for fancy words?). Not even Louise's own sister can understand her situation, which shows us just how desperate it really is.