The Wave Questions and Answers
by Todd Strasser

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From chapters 9–12, what are the different perspectives, as portrayed by the Grapevine staff, Laurie's mom, and Laurie herself?

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In the novel The Wave by Todd Strasser, a history teacher, Ben Ross, starts an experiment with his students about discipline and order which used to be implemented in Nazi Germany. In chapter 9, we see the editorial session of The Gordon Grapevine, the student newspaper. The editor, Laurie Saunders, is an excellent student, and it is clear from the start that she has doubts about the effect the experiment called The Wave is having on other students in her class and beyond. However, she is as yet reluctant to form a definite opinion, because it is not easy to maintain an opinion that is directly opposing the majority, particularly for a teenager. The other students in the editorial team, especially Alex and Carl, think that someone should write about the events taking place in the school. Later on, we learn that both boys have their reservations about such an experiment.

Laurie’s parents, first her mom and then her dad as well, are also concerned about the effects of The Wave. As adults, they realize the potential dangers of creating false impressions of equality and the illusion of power in suggestible minds. Even though a timid and underachieving student like Robert Billings sees The Wave as an opportunity to become braver and feel more important, Laurie’s parents and Laurie herself sense that the experiment could soon get out of hand. This proves true quickly when Laurie finds an anonymous letter from a junior who is bullied into joining The Wave by the seniors. This confirms Laurie’s unspoken fears, and by deciding not to go to the Wave rally, she expresses an opinion against the experiment. This causes her boyfriend, David, to break up with her, but she gets some support from Alex and Carl, who are also not attending. Alex says half-jokingly that they should form a counter-group.

After Mr. Ross has explained his idea to the school principal, Mr. Owens, it is also clear that he is not very happy about it but is reluctant to forbid it because he sees it has already become quite popular and it is useful for students with lower self-esteem, like Robert. The football coach, Norm Schiller, on the other hand, loves the idea of The Wave, as it introduces new discipline and energy into his team. He is not seeing the bigger picture, only the interests of his team.

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