The Wave: Chapter 7,8
Summary – Chapter Seven and Chapter Eight
That evening Laurie tells her parents about the last two days in history class. She says it was ‘“incredible”’ when everyone was saluting and repeating the mottos and they could not help but get caught up in it. Her mother says she does not like it as it sounds ‘“too militaristic”’. Laurie thinks her mother always takes things the ‘“wrong way”’ and says there was also ‘“positive energy”’ in the room. Her father says he is in favor of anything that will make them pay attention. Laurie says even Robert, ‘“the class creep”’, is part of the group and joining in and nobody has picked on him for two days.
Her mother says they should be learning history, not studying what it is like to be part of a group, and her father argues that the United States was built ‘“by people who were part of a group”’. Her mother counters this by saying these people were also not afraid to act as individuals. Laurie repeats that she thinks her mother is taking it the wrong way and Mr Ross has found a way to get them all involved. Her mother reminds her that ‘“the popular thing is not always the right thing”’. She also says she thinks the teacher is manipulating them, which Laurie denies.
The narrative cuts to Ben and Christy and she compares him to Dr Frankenstein. She asks if his ‘“monsters”’ have turned on him yet. He says most of them are turning into human beings and some are even reading ahead. She is a little bothered, though, by his tone and pride in them and asks how far he will take the experiment. He says he does not know, but it could be fascinating to see. He also admits he is caught up in it and that it is ‘“contagious”’. She nods and thinks this is obvious and says he might be becoming a guinea pig in his own experiment.
In Chapter Eight, Laurie and David walk to school together as usual the next morning. He says how the team need The Wave and he got them interested in it yesterday. After practice, the coach had said they were like a new team. Laurie tells him her mother thinks it is brainwashing and David says she is ‘“crazy”’ and was not in the class to witness it. Laurie feels an urge to argue with him, but quells it.
In class, Ben has put up a poster of the blue wave symbol and he is dressed in a suit with a shirt and tie. He is usually in casual clothes. He passes out yellow cards and Laurie thinks correctly that these are membership cards. Ben explains that some have a red cross on them and these people are to be monitors. They are to report to him if any members of The Wave do not obey the rules. Those who have this red cross, like Brian and Robert, are smiling and those like Laurie who do not have one are less pleased.
She questions the point of the cards and has to repeat her question in the ‘correct form’ before Ben will answer her. He thinks the answer is not immediately apparent, but for now he says ‘“it’s just an example of how a group might monitor itself”’.
He adds another word, ‘Action’, to the board and says this is their next lesson. He tells them: ‘“A disciplined group with a goal can take action to achieve it.”’ He asks if they believe in The Wave and there is a split second hesitation and then they rise in unison and answer ‘“Mr Ross, yes”’. He says they must take action then, and never be afraid to act on what they believe. They all stand to attention as he speaks. Laurie does too, but does not feel the same energy she had the day before and thinks there is something too ‘single-minded’ and ‘absolute’ in their obedience to the teacher that she thinks is almost ‘creepy’.
He tells them to sit and they do. He tells them he does not want them to compete against each other anymore and to think of themselves as a team: ‘“Remember, in The Wave you are all equals”’. He says their first action as a team is to recruit new members. David smiles at Eric as this is what he wanted to hear (thinking it will be good for the football team).
One of the students follows the protocol and says for the first time he feels part of something. Robert, Amy and David show their agreement. Ben had been thinking of moving on to their assignment, but ‘subconsciously’ thinks they want him to take the lead, so he does. He orders them to salute and say the mottos. They do this again without being prompted and he gazes at them in ‘wonderment’: ‘The Wave was no longer just an idea or a game. It was a living movement in his students.’ He sees they could act alone without him, but he is confident he has control as ‘their leader’: ‘The experiment was simply becoming much more interesting.’
The narrative shifts to lunch time and all The Wave members are sitting together. Robert is tentative about joining them, but David insists. Most of them rave about the class, but Laurie feels odd about it and asks if anybody else does. Brad says he is pleased as this means there are no more cliques, as ‘“we are all equal”’. David asks if she knows anybody who does not like it and she flushes and says she is uncertain. Brian pulls out his membership card, which has a red cross on it, and reminds her of what Mr Ross said about breaking the rules. She is shocked at first, but relaxes when he laughs.
Robert says she would be breaking the rules if she really was against The Wave. He explains nervously that if they are a community they all have to agree. Laurie stops herself from saying anything as she knows The Wave has given him the courage sit with them and say something. If she challenges The Wave, he might think she is undermining his presence.
Analysis – Chapter Seven and Chapter Eight
Laurie’s mother and Christy are the first to make dissenting noises against The Wave and it is through Christy’s reactions to Ben that the readers begin to see how he is, as she claims, beginning to be caught up in his own experiment. She notices his tone and pride in the achievements of the students under the new regime and is rightly concerned that this demonstrates a lack of impartiality.
As worrying as his pride might be, an overview of the experiment reveals his reaction to be in keeping with the power of the fascist mindset he is aiming to explore. By becoming his own guinea pig, he exposes unwittingly the perilous nature of the fascist enterprise. Power is seen to be intoxicating and he begins to find it difficult to resist.