The Wave: Chapter 13,14

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Summary – Chapter Thirteen and Chapter Fourteen

Laurie wants to talk to Amy about David and for the last three years they have watched football together. Laurie gets there just as the match is starting and spots Amy up near the top row.


Someone yells ‘“stop”’ and she turns to see Brad. He says he did not recognize her and performs The Wave salute. She stands there without moving and he frowns. He says if she gives the salute she can carry on up the rows. She questions this and he says it was decided by The Wave that they give the salute in this section of the stands. She becomes angry and is adamant she will not do as he says and he blushes and again asks her to salute. Finally, he tells her to go ahead as he does not think anybody has noticed. With this, she decides she does not want to join the people here after all and has no intention of ‘sneaking anywhere to join The Wave’. She asks why he is doing this and if he is afraid of what the other members will do if he does not go along with it. He says nothing at first, denies it and tells her to shut her mouth. He adds that a lot of people noticed she was not at the rally yesterday. She says ‘“so what?”’ and he says he is just telling her.


On Sunday, the Saunders’ living room is turned into a newsroom as they put the special edition together. Several members are missing and Carl says he thinks they are frightened of ‘“incurring the wrath of The Wave”’.


The edition is to include the anonymous story and Carl’s report on the sophomore who has been beaten up. It turns out he was not hurt badly and there is some uncertainty as to whether or not it was about The Wave. However, the boy was called ‘a dirty Jew’ and his parents have told Carl they are keeping him at home and plan to visit the principal on Monday morning.


Interviews with concerned parents and teachers are also to be featured, but the most critical article is Laurie’s editorial. Here, she condemns The Wave and points out is has done more harm than good. Even the football team lost despite it and she warns if not stopped The Wave could cause more harm. Carl and Alex say they will take the paper to the printer the next morning and it will be out by lunchtime.


In Chapter Fourteen, Laurie wants to speak to Amy before the paper comes out and finds her in the library the next morning. She shows her the editorial and Amy says she is being influenced by her fight with David. Laurie disagrees and says everybody is forgetting who they are and it is like ‘“The Night of the Living Dead”’. She asks Amy why she wants to be a part of it and Amy explains that all the time they have been friends she has competed with Laurie and for the first time she feels she does not have to keep up with her. She thinks The Wave means everybody is equal and Laurie is against it because ‘“it means you’re not a princess anymore”’. Laurie is stunned that someone as smart as Amy could turn against her because of The Wave and is also angry. She says she is still publishing it and Amy asks her not to. Laurie says she already has and Amy looks at her as if she is a stranger and says she has to go.


Copies of The Grapevine are taken up quicker than ever before. More rumors of threats and abuse begin to circulate and there is also talk of parents and teachers complaining to the principal. Ben reads the paper in the faculty lounge and feels as though something has gone wrong and suspects he is to blame. He cannot justify the experiment having this effect. He is also surprised to find himself disturbed by the football team’s ‘embarrassing defeat’ and yet he does not ‘care the least’ about school sports. He also thinks at what point did success or failure of The Wave begin to matter as this was not the point of the experiment.


As he is about to leave, he hears the coach outside saying The Wave is no substitute for learning the game. He hears another man say he thinks Ross has brainwashed the kids and does not know what he thinks he is up to. Ben slips to the bathroom when the door begins to open and avoids looking in the mirror. He wonders to himself if he has ‘accidentally slipped into the role of a dictator’. 


The narrative moves to David and how he cannot understand why everyone does not join The Wave. People are laughing about the team’s defeat, but he thinks The Wave is not a miracle and they have only known about it for five days.


He, Robert and some others are out on the school lawn reading The Grapevine and David feels a little sick at Laurie’s story. He has not heard of anyone being threatened or hurt and for all he knows, he thinks, Laurie and her staff could have made this up. Robert is upset and says it is lies. He also says Laurie cannot be allowed to say these things. He says she is a threat and has to be stopped. David does not like the sinister tone, but Brian cuts him off and tells Robert to not worry as he and David will take care of her.


David and Brian talk together and David says he does not like Robert’s attitude and thinks they should not get rid of opposition as he wants. Brian says he (David) has to admit he has got a point as The Wave will not have a chance if Laurie keeps writing this sort of thing. He asks him to tell her to ‘“cool it”’ and he agrees reluctantly.


Analysis – Chapter Thirteen and Chapter Fourteen

The insidious nature of The Wave, and so of fascist groups, becomes all the more noticeable as the friendship between Laurie and Amy breaks up.


It is telling, though, that the cracks in their friendship appeared earlier as Amy struggled to compete with her. Once more, the society of the high school that promotes competition and rivalry is seen to leave its students vulnerable to fascist responses.


By promoting such rivalry, many students are left feeling unworthy as by default they cannot all be the most popular or the most intelligent. The atmosphere of competition means such hierarchies are overvalued and only the chosen few are allowed to feel positive about their own worth. As the popularity of The Wave demonstrates, the majority of students are ordinarily overlooked in such a society and so a group that offers the illusion of unity is thought of as preferable. This is damning not only of fascism, but also of a school system that promotes a structure that leaves many students feeling undervalued.


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