Study Guide

The Wave Language and Communication

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Language and Communication

Chapter 2

Even now some of the students were starting to fool around. The misery and horror depicted in the film must have seemed like just another television program. (2.8)

Ben is challenged to look for a more effective way to communicate information on the Holocaust to his students. Their who-cares attitude suggests that the film just isn't cutting it in the communication department.

Chapter 4

Was this something historians knew that words could not explain? Was it something one could only understand by being there? Or, if possible, by re-creating a similar situation? (4.2)

People who write and talk about the Holocaust sometimes get the feeling that no words or pictures can ever adequately describe it. In fact, theorist Theodor Adorno claims that "to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric" – not even the most expressive form of communication can cut it.

Chapter 7
Christy Ross

"Maybe you're becoming a guinea pig in your own experiment," she said. Although she made it sound like a joke, she hoped he'd take it as a warning. (7.40)

<em>The Wave </em>spends a lot of time looking at how people who care about each other communicate. Ben's wife Christy is worried about what her husband is doing, but she doesn't want to offend him. She makes what sounds like a joke, hoping he will read between the lines and understand what she is really trying to tell him. Of course, as the situation gets direr, she gets blunter. Whatever works, Christy!

Chapter 9
Carl Block and Alex Cooper

"Well, I think <em>The Grapevine</em> still should have a story reporting that it exists, at least," Carl said. "I mean, a lot of kids are wondering what it is." (9.47)

In Germany, the Nazis had complete control over the media. They controlled not only the news, but popular media like film and books (books deemed unacceptable by the Nazis were burned in mass bonfires). Luckily, during Ben Ross' experiment-gone-wrong, the media remains free of the influence of The Wave.

Laurie Saunders

"[…] I want you all to do something. Since we have a few days before the paper has to come out. Try to find out everything you can about what kids think of The Wave." (9.48)

Laurie suspects The Wave is bad, but she's trying to be a responsible journalist. She knows that they need to investigate before they can give the public the truth about what's going on.

"The problem is that it's not real, Laurie. […] what do you think happens when he leaves it? The outside world doesn't know or care about The Wave. If Robert couldn't function in school before The Wave, he won't be able to function outside of school where The Wave doesn't exist." (9.65)

Laurie's mother seems to be a strong influence in Laurie's life. She is able to explain her feelings to Laurie without making Laurie feel stupid. That's pretty impressive, if we do say so.

Chapter 11
The Gordon High Community

I saw that senior from Mr. Ross's class in the hall and he asked if I had joined yet. I told him I didn't intend to. He said if I didn't join soon it would be too late.

All I want to know is: Too late for what. </em>(11.12)

The student behind this letter has something to communicate, but he's afraid of the consequences. In a country where free speech reigns, this can't be good.

Chapter 15

But as soon as those stories appeared in the paper, other stories began to circulate. Stories of threats and abuse directed at kids who, for one reason or another, had resisted The Wave. (14.15)

Once someone finds the courage to communicate, it can encourage others to do the same. Especially in a public forum like the <em>Gordon Grapevine</em>, this kind of communication is vital.

Chapter 16
Laurie Saunders

Laurie squeezed his hand. "You weren't dumb, David, just idealistic. I mean, there were good things about The Wave. It couldn't be all bad, or no one would have joined in the first place. It's just that they don't see what's bad about it. They think it makes you equal, but they don't understand that it robs you of your right to be independent." (16.39)

Laurie's right: The Wave did have some positive aspects. And hey, if the group had had a clear-cut, positive goal, it might not have turned so ugly. Why does she communicate this to David at this moment? Is she trying to make him feel better, or does she truly believe this?

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