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I Am the Cheese

Robert Cormier

TAPE OZK014

TAPE OZK013

TAPE OZK015–016

Summary

Narrative

Adam narrates as he spies on the Varney house in the town of Hookset. He sees the bike on their front porch, but there is a constant flow of people in and out of the house. Adam is grateful that his headache is gone—he took some aspirin at the drugstore, but he fears it may not have been aspirin, since pills often look alike. He rules out going to the police to recover the bike, as it is too risky.

Junior Varney steps furtively out of the house and inspects the bike. A woman comes out and they fight out of earshot. Adam observes Junior Varney turn his back on his mother, which angers Adam. Adam starts to miss his own mother. Junior's mother goes inside and Junior rides the bike around to the back of the house. Adam confronts him and demands his bike back. Junior says he bought it that day, so Adam tries to grab it from him. He drops his package and the two wrestle. Junior pushes Adam down, but Adam trips him and Junior lands on the concrete. Adam takes the bike and his package and rides away. Toward Rutterburg

TAPE OZK014

A dialogue between Adam and Brint occurs because Adam cannot sleep. Adam explains that he does not know whether to trust him—he is not even sure if Brint is a doctor, and wonders why Brint seems more concerned with certain information than with Adam's well-being. Brint defends himself, repeating that he is only the guide, and that the information has led to great memory recovery. Adam says he is grateful for Brint's help, but that there are still many blank spots. Adam still does not know why he is here. He decides to talk about Amy. Brint asks if he ever talked about his secret past with her, and Adam says no.

A third-person narrator reveals how Adam desperately wanted to tell Amy the Farmers' secret past and how it made him sad that he could not tell her anything. One day, after returning from a failed "Number" at a church wedding, Adam comes home to his mother, who tells him that Grey called about an emergency.

Brint tells Adam that the sessions are important because they reveal blank spots like the one about the family emergency. Brint says that Adam cannot withhold these memories any longer—he must remember it all. Adam feels the memories bursting inside him, but hesitates, feeling that Grey is his enemy, while also knowing he is dependent on him to fill in the blanks.

Adam remembers his frightened mother's telling him that they have to leave town for a few days. One of Grey's men had overheard a conversation on a wiretap in which Monument and tomorrow's date were mentioned. Adam's mother tells him that they had evacuated Monument on two other occasions, when Adam was younger. Adam's father comes in and, in case of a wiretap in the living room, enthusiastically talks about their upcoming vacation and suggests they find a motel. His face, however, expresses sadness and fatigue.

Narrative

Adam narrates as he pedals on the outskirts of Belton Falls and arrives at the Rest-A-While motel, the motel he stayed in with his parents last year. He arrives at the dark motel, which he fears is closed. He enters the empty front office, which feels different from last year.

Adam hears sounds from outside and investigates. He passes a harmless cocker spaniel and sees a teenage gas station attendant across the street. Adam decides to sleep in one of the deserted cabins. The gas station attendant directs him to a pay phone, and Adam places a call through a male operator to Amy. Again, Adam is connected to a man who is not Amy's father. The man verifies that it is the phone number Adam intended, but that he has had it for three years and does not know the Hertz family. Sparknote Fun Fact: The phone number was, before Cormier's death, Cormier's actual number in Leominster, Massachusetts. Cormier placed it there so readers could call him, and over the years, thousands did. Adam hangs up and dials directory assistance, but finds no number for the Hertz family in Monument.

Adam walks away and approaches the attendant, who services a car with a woman inside. Adam feels like the world is moving in slow motion. He asks the attendant how long the motel has been closed, and he tells him two or three years. Adam leaves, regretting that he had not taken the pills that morning. He screams loudly while he crosses the street with his bike. The woman, who has come out of her car, stares at Adam. Adam bangs on the cabin door, asking to be let inside.

Analysis

The plot's mysteries develop further when Adam revisits the motel—which seems to be just as important a place to Adam as his final destination of Rutterburg. We start to become more suspicious of Adam's identity when he tries to call Amy and instead calls a man has had that phone number for three years. Connecting Adam to this man is a male operator, possibly the same one that he used before. Also, the gas station attendant tells Adam that the motel has been closed for two or three years. Adam does appear to be fifteen, as he has led us to believe, but seventeen. Even Adam's description of the Varney house as a "boarding house" with people going in and out, in addition to Adam's description of Arthur and his cage, hints that Adam may not be in a town at all.

Adam's emotional struggle with identity is still the highlight of this section. Adam's situation with Junior Varney reminds him of his mother, whom he misses, and the family's strain while on vacation. We learn that even his father, normally stoic, cannot hide his fatigue from living in constant fear. His parents' conflicting feelings of dependence on and distrust in authority solidifies more in Adam's thoughts, and this in turn affects how he reacts to Brint. Adam resists fully opening up, convinced that Brint is his enemy. Adam also knows that Brint is also his only hope, just as Grey was the family's only protection. Adam is buckling under the pressure, and in this second instance where he is the victim—the first being with Whipper—Adam reacts against an enemy with violence.

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