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I Am the Cheese

Robert Cormier

TAPE OZK002–004

TAPE OZK001

TAPE OZK005

Summary

TAPE OZK002

In a conversation between Brint and Adam, Brint brings up the name Paul Delmonte, a name that Adam does not recognize. Brint also brings up Amy, but Adam declines to speak about her, and he refuses the medication Brint offers. Brint apologizes and reminds Adam that their talks are purely voluntary, and that Brint would act only as a guide to help him remember.

Narrative

Adam narrates as he pedals along the road, he sings the children's song "The Farmer in the Dell." He remembers the way his father used to sing the song to him, and how he would put Adam into his mother's lap in a cheerful family ritual. Adam recalls that this used to happen before Adam's mother became sad. Since their last name was Farmer, his father told Adam the song was written just for them. A steep hill forces Adam to walk his bike, but he zooms down the other side and heads for Rutterburg.

TAPE OZK003

In a conversation between Brint and Adam, Brint asks Adam several questions, but gets no response. In a third-person account, the narrator reveals that Adam feels like he is outside himself and looking in on the scene, although he does not want to look at himself. Adam is excited by the power that allows him to visit other places, as if it makes him forget something, but he is unsure what that something is. Brint and Adam resume their conversatin and Brint says they will postpone their meeting.

Narrative

Adam narrates in the first-person that a ferocious dog waits for him at the bottom of the hill. Adam is terrified and tries to speed past the German shepherd. The dog blocks the middle of the road, and steps away just as Adam careens past him. The dog then runs along side the bike, trying to stop its progress, and he shakes Adam's confidence. An oncoming car nearly hits Adam, and the dog chases after the car instead. Adam passes through the small town of Fairfield, but still fears the dog. The open air revives him and he continues on to Rutterburg.

TAPE OZK004

In another dialogue between Adam and Brint, Adam asks whether Brint is a doctor—a psychiatrist—and if Adam is in a hospital or a "private sanitorium" (a place of medically supervised recuperation). Brint asks Adam if it bothers him to be in such a place, and Adam responds that he does not know, about this and other things. Brint asks him about the "clues" again.

A third-person narrator reveals that Adam is wary, but decides to give Brint some, but not all, of the clues, in a clever way. Back in the dialogue, Adam mentions that the dog may be a clue, and says he thought of this clue when he saw a dog out on the grass this morning. Brint asks if he means Silver, a German shepherd, and whether Silver is a clue. Adam responds that a different dog is the clue.

In a third-person account of a moment in Adam's childhood, Adam remembers a threatening dog blocking his path when he was with his father. Adam looked up at this moment and felt as though his father were a stranger, instead of the respectable insurance agent who loved his family and loved reading. They headed to the library via the woods, an odd route for them to take. Adam's father leads Adam away from the library and further into the woods, looking backward as if running away from someone, until they discover a dog. His father tells Adam to carefully walk away from the dog, while he stays to face the animal. Adam wants to stay with his father, but, terrified, walks away. Before he gets too far, the dog attacks his father. His father yells at Adam to run away, but Adam is paralyzed by fear. His father fends the dog off with tree branches until it runs away. Adam hugs his father with all his love.

In the remaining dialogue of Tape OZK004, Brint asks Adam if this is a clue, and Adam says he thinks so. He adds that he and his father did not tell his mother why they went into the woods, that it was a secret, and that after all the commotion died down his father required a shot at the hospital from being bitten by the dog. Adam realizes that he cannot even remember what made his father flee into the woods.

Analysis

The mysterious "clues" connect the three different narrative parts and the three different places they refer to. For example, Adam has a fear of dogs and a specific German shepherd. The image of the dog links the three places: Adam's memories of his father and his fight with a dog, the dog at the place where Adam and Brink have their taped sessions, and the bike route that Adam travels in his journey to Rutterburg.

Cormier introduces new questions, such as the identity of Paul Delmonte and why Adam refuses to discuss him. Cormier also develops repetition in the details of the mystery that is slowly building. For example, Adam's flight with his father from the dog is the second flight, the first being their sudden bus trip to a new town. Cormier also connects the idea of flight to Adam's pleasurable sensation of being outside of himself. Note that Adam's sensation of being outside himself makes him paradoxically more aware of his own memories. Moreover, his pleasurable feeling suggests that Adam enjoys identity alteration. Adam constantly dons a disguise to enter places without revealing his true identity. Similarly, in Adam's conversations with Brint, he reveals a dual desire to remain invisible while also revealing his invisible identity. Perhaps this is why Adam loves the wind so much—it is an invisible agent that is at once everywhere and nowhere. Brint himself continues to be evasive about certain matters, even refusing to answer whether or not he is a doctor, and it is unclear whether he is actually "guiding" Adam or trying to control Adam's memory recovery.

There is also something vaguely sinister about the song "The Farmer in the Dell" and the way Adam's father forces it upon the family. Still, it pleases the family, and the song seems to be about a happy, connected family, as indicated by lines like "The farmer takes a wife" and "The wife takes the child."

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