What are the themes of The Wave?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Todd Strasser's novel, The Wave, addresses the dangers of facism and group 'mob' mentality.  Ben Ross seeks to show his students how the German people accepted the Nazi regime during World War II; his classroom experiment creates 'The Wave,' a student group in which power comes from unity.  Ross structures 'the Wave' to emphasize conformity and obedience; he uses drills in his classroom that many students, like Robert Billings, can excel in when previously they might have felt discouraged or like an outsider. 

Ultimately, Ross's seemingly benign social experiment gets out of hand; 'the Wave' reveals the true destructive power of facism's appeal to humanity's need to belong.  The students swept into the fervor of 'the Wave' abandon both their morals and ability to think independently in exchange for the emotional connection provided by the group mentality of 'the Wave.'

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