author · Robert Cormier
type of work · Fiction
genre · Bildungsroman (coming-of-age), psychological thriller, mystery, orphan quest
language · English
time and place written · Late 1970s, the United States
date of first publication · 1977
publisher · Dell
narrator · Adam is a first person narrator during the bicycle journey. There is an anonymous third person that describes Adam's childhood memories. There are two- person word-for-word dialogues in the transcripts of the session tapes.
point of view · The story is told from Adam's first person perspective, or it is told from the third person with full knowledge of Adam's emotions and motivations.
tone · Suspenseful and sensitive
tense · Present tense except for Adam's memories, which told in the past tense
setting (time) · 1970s
setting (place) · Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont
protagonist · Adam
major conflict · Adam and learning the truth about his identity Anthony and his enemies—the criminal government officials that he investigated Adam and Brint
rising action · Anthony Delmonte investigates criminal activity in the government, Grey assigns a new identity to the Delmonte family, Grey tells the Farmers to leave Monument and they take a trip to Vermont
climax · Adam's parents die, and Adam arrives at Rutterburg, which is really the psychiatric hospital
falling action · Brint advises that Adam, who has withdrawn into a semi-infantile state, be "terminated" or continue until he "obliterates." Adam takes another bike ride to see his father.
themes · Discovering and altering one's identity, helpless individual against powerful organizations
motifs · Orphan quest, "The Farmer in the Dell," mystery novel conventions
symbols · Wind, Pokey the Pig, package
foreshadowing · Nearly everything on Adam's bike trip foreshadows his life at the hospital, the newspaper's article on the Farmer's fake car accident, and the two copies of Adam's birth certificates.
Take a Study Break!