The Wave: Summary & Characters

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

''The Wave'' is a story about a teacher who tries to teach students about the Nazi party, by creating his own cult-like group, to provide an example of how easy it is to fall into terrible ideals. The lesson focuses on the novel's summary and characters.

9 Days

The Wave by Todd Strasser is a story about history teacher Ben Ross and the nine days that he changes the face of Gordon High School. He is well-liked by his students even when they get bored of his lectures. However, when they begin discussing World War II, his class is curious as to how people could follow Adolf Hitler. Ben realizes he cannot give them everything they want to know, so instead he decides to perform an experiment with his students. Since he is a charismatic teacher and his students look up to him, he plays the role of leader and creates a group called The Wave.

The Wave

The next day in class, he starts building up the confidence of the students, correcting their posture, and getting them excited about their new group. He starts posting ideals for the class to remember and embody, including ''strength through discipline'' and ''strength through community''. The students are also taught a salute that they can do between students and with the teacher. The discipline that The Wave requires from its followers seems to make the football players who are in the group better as they learn to go to practice on time and take better care of their team. The positive results coming from the football team make others more intrigued about The Wave, and increase its number of followers.

The Dissident

Laurie Saunders is the president of the school newspaper, and she is also dating David, the most popular boy in school. She is in Mr. Ross' class and was excited in the beginning about the new group, but realizes that something is wrong after talking with her mom. She becomes one of the largest dissidents against The Wave and, as a result, is bullied often. This is new for her because she used to be so popular; however, she refuses to back down. She starts to use the newspaper as a way to research and fight the new group, by publishing exposés that give a voice to those being hurt by The Wave and their bullying.

Too Far

As the group gains more and more popularity, even the school outcast, Robert Billings, has become part of the in-crowd, the-in crowd that is The Wave. He used to eat lunch by himself, but now all of the group sits together, and Robert has volunteered to guard Mr. Ross. The group has started to bully anyone not willing to follow them, and the The Wave has only been in existence for less than a week. David and Laurie begin to fight more, because David believes in The Wave and what it stands for, and he hates his girlfriend's distaste for the group. He eventually breaks up with her.

Even Mr. Ross' wife has become concerned with the behavior of the students and of her husband. Christy Ross has been watching her husband become more involved with the group, planning the group's actions for hours each night. She is concerned that he may be falling prey to the corrupt ideals of judgement and violence to those who do not follow The Wave.

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