The novel “The Wave” by Morton Rhue is set at an ordinary US high school. For this reason, the main characters are largely teenagers who go to school there. Their history teacher Ben Ross, as well as some other faculty members and the students' parents also play important roles in the plot.

The characterization not only looks at the appearance and actions of the main characters Laurie, Ben Ross, David, Robert, Amy, and Brian, but also provides information regarding how they feel about the teaching experiment and how they change as a result. In particular, we examine in detail the character of Laurie Saunders and Ben Ross, who are in a way opposites.

Character map

The Wave is about belonging and division, about absolute identification with the movement or about resistance against its structures and its claim to power. This division is also reflected in the following character map, which assigns all the characters to one side and contrasts them.

Here you can read an excerpt: 

Robert stands to lose if the Wave experiment is stopped

At no point is Robert concerned with understanding the behavior of the German population during the Nazi regime. He does not pause to consider the implications of the Wave and only pays attention to how he can personally profit from it (Chapter 14, 86%). 

When Robert reads Laurie's editorial in The Gordon Grapevine, he reacts downright aggressively and is determined to prevent her from continuing to publish negative things about The Wave. Robert perceives Laurie as a serious threat. Consequently, it becomes clear that he has completely adopted a totalitarian mentality: he fights for the movement with all his strength without questioning it. Robert considers all those who are different and those who are not members of The Wave as actual enemies (Chapter 14, 86%).

In the novel, Robert assumes the role of a key character, as he loses himself completely in the Nazi character of The Wave. Thus, he reminds us of the German lower middle-class, to whom the Nazi regime gave the feeling of no longer being oppressed and finally being respected. 

For this reason, a whole world collapses for Robert when Ben Ross breaks off the experiment. When all the students have already left the auditorium, he is left sobbing and crying. He knows that from now on his life will be as if The Wave had never existed. Ben also recognizes him as the only real loser of the experiment and tries to cheer him up a little by offering him to eat together (Chapter 17, 90-100%)...

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