Study Guide

Laurie Saunders in The Wave

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Laurie Saunders

Laurie, editor of the school paper, is the most with-it girl in school. We've heard that one before, right? Yep, like Ben, Laurie is something of a type. But even though she isn't fully fleshed out as a character, Laurie does grow and change. Her confidence, outspokenness, and a strong sense of self increase over the course of the novel. Not bad.

The Popularity Problem

Popularity isn't exactly a problem for Laurie. She seems to accept it as part of the natural course of things. Her success seems driven by a personal desire to do well, not by a desire to be better than others. Yeah, she's pretty awesome.

But others don't necessarily see it that way. Laurie is aware of this on some level at the beginning of the novel, as she thinks about her friendship with Amy Smith:

It sometimes bothered Laurie that underlying their friendship was a constant competition for boys, grades, popularity, almost everything one could compete for. Even though they were best friends, that constant competition prevented them from being really close. (3.86)

While the issue of popularity "sometimes" bothers Laurie, it seems to be a constant issue for other kids at school. In fact, one of the main reasons that kids join The Wave is to eliminate all the competition. And here's the rub: Laurie's boyfriend David and her friend Amy accuse her of being responsible for much of the competitive atmosphere at school. Laurie doesn't really address this issue in the novel, but she might have to after The Wave.

At the top of the school-success ladder – socially, academically, and extra-currircularly – Laurie has some power to make things better for other students. Since she's creative, driven and concerned with doing the right thing, Shmoop thinks Laurie will be able to do something to help. What do you think? But more importantly, do you think she did enough during The Wave?

Like Mother (and Father) Like Daughter

One big thing Laurie has going for her is excellent communication with her parents. Good communication is always a two-way, or in this case, three-way, street. Laurie's relationship with her mom and dad seems to be built on mutual respect and honest and clear expression. Easier said than done, we know.

When Laurie first brings up The Wave, her father encourages her excitement, but her mother is immediately worried. Laurie and her parents are each able to give their opinions on the matter without it breaking into a total scream-fest. Listening to and considering each other's different points of view is one way they show respect for each other.

In the end, her mother's arguments help Laurie recognize The Wave for what it is. They also help Laurie have the confidence to stand up against The Wave, even if it means risking her popularity:

"Honey, just remember that the popular thing is not always the right thing." (7.17)

We'll second that, Mom. At first, Laurie resists her mother's way of looking at things, but as The Wave grows, she starts to see that her loving mom is right.

In the end, Laurie's relationship with her parents helps make a difficult and traumatic time in her life much easier to bear. A deep sense of belonging to this group (family) will give Laurie strength for her whole life, unlike the temporary (and potentially harmful) effects of a group like The Wave.

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