I Am the Cheese

by: Robert Cormier

TAPE OZK015–016

Summary TAPE OZK015–016

Brint issues three possible advisories. One, that Department 1-R should revise Policy 979, which currently does not allow the termination, or death, of Adam. Two, that the Department discontinue the suspension of #2222 and reinstate him. Brint argues that no one knows whether #2222 facilitated the murder of Adam's parents. He notes that #2222 acted efficiently after the Farmer's deaths. Agent #2222 also removed Adam's mother's remains from the scene and transferred Adam to "confinement facilities," all without the involvement of the local authorities. Brint says that #2222 acted within existing policies of the Agency. The final advisory states that because Adam is the final link between Adam's father and File Data 865–01, he recommends that Adam be confined in the facilities until his termination is approved, or until he "obliterates."

The final page reprints the first paragraph of the book.

Analysis

Cormier provides insight into some of the novel's mysteries in the powerful, terrifying double climax. The end resolves the mystery of what happened to Adam and his family and the reason for Adam's stay at the institution. Adam's bike ride to Rutterburg reveals itself as a fantasy-spurred trip around the grounds of the mental hospital. When Adam arrives at "Rutterburg," and walks around the hospital grounds, we realize that the characters and places in his journey reflect individuals and buildings at the institution. The orange-painted hospital was Howard Johnson's, Mr. Harvester is the old man at the gas station, Luke is the operator, and Arthur, Junior Varney, and Whipper are fellow residents. Adam's claustrophobia and need for freedom relate not solely to his issues with his identity, but to his actual imprisonment, as he is confined to the hospital. Adam's parents' fake news article was prophetic, as it reported the family's death due to a car accident on the highway.

The second resolution of the novel's mysteries is possibly more terrifying. It appears that Brint works for the same "Agency" as Grey, and has been trying to obtain any new information from Adam that Anthony Delmonte may have told him. In case you had difficulty decoding the final taped report, recall Tape OZK013 (Section 8), when Adam's mother revealed that Grey's government number was 2222. The narrative suggests that Grey betrayed the Farmers—note the tall man's gray pants and Adam's familiarity with "Him." We are not sure why Grey allowed Adam's parents to be murdered. One possible explanation is that Grey feared that Adam's father was still withholding information, possibly information that could hurt him.

All organizational and governmental figures have been working against the Farmers. Grey's had ulterior motives against Adam's father, just as Brint does against Adam. Adam's death is imminent, as he is the "final linkage" to File Data 865–01, the information the Agency was afraid Adam's father knew, but was withholding. The reprinted paragraph of the first page of Adam's journey suggests that Adam will eternally make the same journey to relearn his identity and to restore a memory too horrible for him to accept. The journey will continue until he is "obliterated." Cormier also reveals the novel's final mystery, that of the novel's title, and Adam's last statement, "I am the cheese." The title carries with it a sad reminder that Adam will stand utterly alone, an orphan who does not even know his name, and does not even have himself as company.