The Wave: Chapter 9,10
Summary – Chapter Nine and Chapter Ten
Ben is not sure what to make of The Wave as the experiment spreads from his classroom. The recruitment of others means his class is expanding and yet they are still covering the work faster than usual.
With the rapid question and answer system, there is more preparation and involvement from them. However, he also notices ‘there was no analysis, no questioning on their part’. He also finds out the football team has been influenced by The Wave successfully. In addition, he notes a few students have said they prefer the increased discipline.
The narrative switches to Laurie in the publications office at the weekly editorial meeting. The others do not have any stories, but Carl refers to The Wave and says everyone wants to know about it. Laurie admits she is in this history class and is cautious about writing about it. Eventually she agrees to try to explain it in print. She also asks the other reporters to find out what the students think of it.
At home, Laurie has not mentioned The Wave again but her mother comes to her room and says Robert Billings’ mother has said Robert is ‘“a completely new person”’ and is pleased with the change in him. Laurie’s mother still does not trust The Wave, though, and says this change in personality is comparable to him joining a cult. She expands and says if he could not function without The Wave before ‘“he won’t be able to function outside of school where The Wave doesn’t exist”’.
Laurie says she is not so crazy about it now and tries to reassure her mother it is only a fad. Her mother says Mrs Billings said they are planning a Wave rally for Friday afternoon. Laurie defends it and says it is only a pep rally that has been re-named and sighs when her mother says skeptically that 200 new members will be formally indoctrinated. Laurie says she is being paranoid and The Wave is just a game; she compares it to boys playing at being soldiers. Her mother asks if she is bothered and she admits to thinking it is ‘“immature”’, but when her mother leaves she questions whether it is just a fad.
Ben is told to visit the principal in his office in Chapter Ten. On the way, more than a dozen students give him The Wave salute. He returns the salutes and thinks he will be somewhat relieved if he is told to bring this to an end. Conversely, he also thinks of Robert and how for the first time he feels part of the group. Furthermore, he wonders if stopping the experiment will cheat him and the students out of seeing it through. At this point he stops himself and remembers not to get carried away. This was only begun as an opportunity ‘for his students to get a taste of what life in Nazi Germany might have been like’ and had not intended on this leading anywhere.
In Principal Owens’ office, Owens praises Ben’s suit and asks if his wearing it has anything to do with The Wave. Ben says yes and is then asked to explain what it is.
When he finishes explaining, Owens looks less happy, but not as displeased as Ben thought he would be. Ben explains they are ahead in their studies and there have been no complaints. He also says Christy has noticed improvements in her classes. He exaggerates this point a little, but thinks it is necessary. Owens says he is worried about The Wave being too ‘“open-ended”’. Ben assures him he is in control as it depends on the group following the leader and he is the leader. Owens asks him to not take it too far and to remember the students are impressionable. He agrees to this.
Analysis – Chapter Nine and Chapter Ten
The influence and popularity of The Wave is referred to as more and more students come to Ben’s class as they too want to be a part of this movement. Furthermore, as he walks down the corridor he is saluted and responds in kind.
It is telling that a movement such as this would find a foothold in a high school, as it plays to the insecurities of the young adult concerned with peer group pressure and wanting to belong. A fascist movement is seen to appeal to those who are looking for a place in society and for those who perhaps feel disenfranchised. The false promise of unity, brought about by membership, slogans and mottos, gives them the idea (if not the fact) of being part of a community and plays to these insecurities. This in turn highlights how ostracism leaves people vulnerable to the machinations of politics such as this.