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I Am the Cheese

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falling action ·  Brint advises that Adam, who has withdrawn into a semi-infantile state, be "terminated" or continue until he "obliterates."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