full title I Am the Cheese
author Robert Cormier
type of work Fiction
genre Bildungsroman (coming-of-age), psychological thriller, mystery, orphan quest
time and place written Late 1970s, the United States
date of first publication 1977
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
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falling action Brint advises that Adam, who has withdrawn into a semi-infantile state, be "terminated" or continue until he "obliterates."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.