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I Am the Cheese

Robert Cormier

TAPE OZK013

TAPE OZK012

TAPE OZK014

Summary

Narrative

Adam narrates and emerges from the drugstore in Hookset to find that his bike is gone. He is scared and feels a headache coming on. Adam looks for his bike in a narrow alley. He comes out the other side into a deserted area, and on the second-floor fire escape of a nearby building, sees a large man, Arthur. Arthur calls Adam "honey" several times and responds cryptically to questions about his bike's location. Arthur refers to the fire escape as a cage, and Adam sees that the iron rungs, combined with his weight, do physically entrap the man.

Adam cries because he wants his bike back. Another man, who is inside the apartment and has a New England accent, orders Arthur to tell him who has the bike. Arthur says a ragamuffin named, Junior Varney, who lives next to the Baptist Church, took the bike. The other man calls Arthur to come in, and Arthur is upset that he never gets to "do anything." Adam thanks Arthur and, before he leaves, feels bad about his cage, and tells him that he is sorry.

TAPE OZK013

Brint says Adam is looking better this morning, and Adam says that things are clearer now. Brint presses for more specific details about the family's move to Monument, such as Anthony's testimony, and Adam says that his father did not have time to tell him about it. Adam suddenly feels panicked and threatened. Brint changes the topic, asking whether Adam and his father grew closer after the disclosure, and Adam says yes, because he was proud that his father stood up for the truth.

Adam remembers asking his father if it hurt to give up his old life. His father acknowledged that it did, especially giving up journalism for insurance, but he said that it hurt Louise even more. Anthony told Adam that Grey visited to update the Farmers and assure them they are safe. Grey also used to ask Anthony about any forgotten details about the case and bring bonus money twice a year. Anthony suspected that Grey is making sure Anthony had not been "reached by the other side." Adam asked his father if the Mafia was out to get them, but his father said that the Mafia is just one of many criminal organizations. Anthony also said that, although the evidence he provided had been used, no one really knew if he had divulged all of his information. Anthony believed that Grey checked on the family hoping that Anthony would share of his information. Anthony, however, always maintained that he had no other information.

Returning to the dialogue between Brint and Adam, Brint asks several times about Anthony's information, but Adam says he never questioned his father. Adam says the way Brint is looking at him—as if they were enemies—is similar to how his father described Grey's face when he was seeking information. Brint says it is understandable that Adam is lashing out at him, since he is the only target available, a comment that Adam does not understand. Brint asks about the information again.

A third-person narrator describes Adam's anxiety that Brint is not a doctor, and that he may even be one of his father's enemies. Still, Adam acknowledges his dependence on Brint for recovering his memory, and vows to use Brint but to be careful about dispensing the information he wants.

Back on the tape's dialogue, Brint brings up Adam's father again. A third-person narrator describes how Adam remembers back to the various deceptions his father had to execute—wearing non-prescription eyeglasses and a moustache, and giving up smoking. His father said they never lived in Rawlings, but flew there once to get acquainted with it. Martha, he said, was a cloistered nun in Maine, his mother's only living relative, whom Grey had allowed contact with as a minimal risk.

Adam asks Brint why he only asks about his father, and not his mother. Brint replies that he has merely been a guide, and that Adam chose to fixate on his father. Adam says he wants to talk about his mother, but he temporarily had forgotten about her. Adam says he always thought of his mother as a sad person, but it turns out it was not sadness so much as fear about the "Never Knows." A third-person narrator reveals how Adam remembers back to one day when he confronted his mother for the first time since the disclosure of their past. His mother cries, and Adam comforts her while she tells him about the Never Knows—that is, never knowing what is going to happen. She says the people his father testified against were members of a huge organization with possible connections to other organizations, and that there is no guarantee that all his enemies are in jail. Adam's mother explains that the family's identities are in the hands of Grey, a man so cold he even has a special government number (2222). She says that she hates Grey, and twice they nearly defied him, planning vacations to New Orleans and Europe. Grey rejected both ideas and said that they were too risky. Adam's mother talks about the other Never Knows—never knowing who can be trusted or whether the next phone call will be from an enemy. Adam fears the Never Knows when he is not at home or in school. Adam's fear makes life's good moments that much more precious, and soon Adam finds that he and his parents are more intimate and loving than before.

Adam tells Brint that despite his father's advice to live in the present, Adam would often wonder about Paul Delmonte. One time, he says, his mother led him into the past.

The third-person narrator returns and describes how Adam recalls how easily his father slid into the role of David Farmer, while his mother was more defiant. One day, she takes Adam into another room in the basement where she had riskily stashed a few mementos of their former life—his father's old army jacket, a scarf he gave her one Valentine's Day, and Adam's baby effects. Adam fearfully answers the door, but it is only Amy, whom he has been avoiding. He wants to share his feelings with her, but knows he cannot betray his father's trust on this matter of life and death.

The book returns to the tape's dialogue. Adam tells Brint that a dark cloud occasionally cross his mind, sometimes instigated by memories, but more often by a lack of memories. Adam has an anxiety attack and asks where his parents are. Brint summons people to get Adam medication, and they end the session.

Analysis

The main focus in this second section of revelations is on Adam's parents' distrust of Grey, which is similar to Adam's distrust of Brint. Both Grey and Brint are authority figures in their respective organizations, and both possibly have ulterior motives. Brint acts suspicious in that he wants to know the details of Anthony Delmonte's testimony. Adam connects Brint's evil glare to the way Grey looked at Anthony when he probed him for details. It is unclear whether Adam does know the information that Brint seeks, since Adam is now more careful with what he reveals to Brint.

Adam's claustrophobia increases, which is illustrated in a reference to Arthur, and the fire escape cage where he lives. Adam knows what it is like to feel trapped, so it makes sense that Adam expresses empathy for Arthur and his cage. Adding to the suspense of the novel are the odd circumstances surrounding—his open white shirt and the way the other man orders him around.

We learn that Anthony's old hat and his army jacket are among the few items Louise saved from before they left their previous life. We understand why Adam is so attached to these items and why he immediately revealed that these were the items he took for his journey to Rutterburg. The presence of these items also makes us curious about the contents of his package and whether it is something that Louise saved.

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