Study Guide

I Am the Cheese Lies and Deceit

By Robert Cormier

Lies and Deceit

"[...] And you don't even know who to trust anymore. Do you know who the bad guys are?" [...] "Of course you don't. Because you can't tell the good guys from the bad guys anymore. Nobody knows these days. Nobody." (3.19-21)

The old man at the service station foreshadows some similar advice that Adam's mom will give him later on. When it's said here, in Chapter 3, it seems like crazy paranoia; when Adam's mom says it (in regard to her "Never Knows"), it hits home.

Adam was amazed at his ability to lie, the way his mind had been quick to invent a new set of circumstances for himself and his parents. But he wondered <em>why?</em> Why is it necessary to lie? (10.43)

Is there ever a time when it's necessary to lie? Is lying ever okay?

I have a feeling you already know about them. I have a feeling you know everything, even my blank spots. (13.6)

When does Adam first become suspicious of Brint? Why does he continue to rehash his memories to Brint if he doesn't trust him?

<em>They've been lying to me,</em> he thought with horror. <em>All my life, they've been lying to me... </em>(13.26)

Adam's thoughts are expressed throughout this book, but not usually in italics. What effect do the italics have here?

"Do you think we'd lie?" the woman asks, sniffling again.

"Now, Edna," the man says. (21.43-44)

There is something particularly creepy about this interaction. This is the first time we see someone on Adam's bike ride explicitly talk about lies and deceit. Perhaps we are starting to see the two narratives meld together.

There was nothing to be suspicious about, until I became suspicious of everything. (22.1)

This statement shows the strange workings of deceit. When you're trusting, you think no one would possibly lie to you or hide something from you. But the moment you realize something is amiss, everything starts to look like a possible lie. There seems to be no middle ground for Adam.

I was in a panic. I was in a panic because I'm not built for subterfuge and deception. I sat there feeling terrible, ashamed of myself for spying on my parents. (22.17)

Which is worse for Adam, lying or being lied to?

A: He said if I was ever questioned about certain topics, certain information, I couldn't possibly give away the information if I didn't have it to begin with. He said I'd be able to pass the lie-detector tests or any other tests. In other words, I could always tell the truth, even if some fancy truth serums were used, and I'd never betray anything.
T: What do you think you would have betrayed?
(<em>6-second interval</em>)
A: That's a funny question. (23.6)

Did Adam's dad withhold some of the truth from him in order to protect Adam? Or in order to protect the information itself? And what is funny about this question anyway?

How you can be intimate with people, live with them twenty-four hours a day and not really know them. He was amazed at the deceptions that had been carried on by his parents through the years. (25.17)

Adam never seems to be angry with his parents for lying to him his whole life. Even here he is "amazed" at the lies, a word that doesn't necessarily imply any negative feelings.

Actually, he was in agony. He desperately wanted to share his predicament with Amy – he wanted to share his entire life with her – but his father had sworn him to secrecy. It's life and death, Adam, his father had said. (26.40)

Adam's dad places a big burden on him by telling him all of this heavy news and then requiring him not to tell anyone. Imagine the agony of having such a big secret and not being able to tell your best friend.