I Am the Cheese

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  I Am the Cheese

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

antagonist  Brint, Anthony's enemies, Grey

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falling action  Brint advises that Adam, who has withdrawn into a semi-infantile state, be "terminated" or continue until he "obliterates."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.