I Am the Cheese

by: Robert Cormier

TAPE OZK002–004

Summary TAPE OZK002–004

In a third-person account of a moment in Adam's childhood, Adam remembers a threatening dog blocking his path when he was with his father. Adam looked up at this moment and felt as though his father were a stranger, instead of the respectable insurance agent who loved his family and loved reading. They headed to the library via the woods, an odd route for them to take. Adam's father leads Adam away from the library and further into the woods, looking backward as if running away from someone, until they discover a dog. His father tells Adam to carefully walk away from the dog, while he stays to face the animal. Adam wants to stay with his father, but, terrified, walks away. Before he gets too far, the dog attacks his father. His father yells at Adam to run away, but Adam is paralyzed by fear. His father fends the dog off with tree branches until it runs away. Adam hugs his father with all his love.

In the remaining dialogue of Tape OZK004, Brint asks Adam if this is a clue, and Adam says he thinks so. He adds that he and his father did not tell his mother why they went into the woods, that it was a secret, and that after all the commotion died down his father required a shot at the hospital from being bitten by the dog. Adam realizes that he cannot even remember what made his father flee into the woods.

Analysis

The mysterious "clues" connect the three different narrative parts and the three different places they refer to. For example, Adam has a fear of dogs and a specific German shepherd. The image of the dog links the three places: Adam's memories of his father and his fight with a dog, the dog at the place where Adam and Brink have their taped sessions, and the bike route that Adam travels in his journey to Rutterburg.

Cormier introduces new questions, such as the identity of Paul Delmonte and why Adam refuses to discuss him. Cormier also develops repetition in the details of the mystery that is slowly building. For example, Adam's flight with his father from the dog is the second flight, the first being their sudden bus trip to a new town. Cormier also connects the idea of flight to Adam's pleasurable sensation of being outside of himself. Note that Adam's sensation of being outside himself makes him paradoxically more aware of his own memories. Moreover, his pleasurable feeling suggests that Adam enjoys identity alteration. Adam constantly dons a disguise to enter places without revealing his true identity. Similarly, in Adam's conversations with Brint, he reveals a dual desire to remain invisible while also revealing his invisible identity. Perhaps this is why Adam loves the wind so much—it is an invisible agent that is at once everywhere and nowhere. Brint himself continues to be evasive about certain matters, even refusing to answer whether or not he is a doctor, and it is unclear whether he is actually "guiding" Adam or trying to control Adam's memory recovery.

There is also something vaguely sinister about the song "The Farmer in the Dell" and the way Adam's father forces it upon the family. Still, it pleases the family, and the song seems to be about a happy, connected family, as indicated by lines like "The farmer takes a wife" and "The wife takes the child."