I Am the Cheese

by: Robert Cormier

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Summary TAPE OZK006

One Thursday night, Adam eavesdropped on his mother's call, using another phone. He heard the voice of an older woman—named Martha—who told his mother about the beautiful place where she lives, and that it is "not simply a place to hide." Martha asks about her nephew, Adam. Adam hangs up just before his father walks into the room, but he is shocked, realizing that his parents have explicitly lied to him by saying they had no living relatives.

Returning to the dialogue between Adam and Brint, it appears that Adam has revealed this memory to Brint, but he now feels ill and they end their session.

Analysis

The novel uses the conventions of the mystery/detective novel. Adam discovers information in two clichéd ways—rooting through a desk and eavesdropping on a phone conversation. However, our suspense increases because Adam is searching for clues about his own life. Simultaneously, the reader pieces the clues together as Adam does, through his point of view. Although Adam actually starts remembering his childhood during his dialogues with Brint, real revelations all come through third-person memories. Since Cormier can more eloquently describe Adam's emotions than Adam himself, the mystery sections are rendered more sensitively. We uncover not only pertinent information about Adam's past, but we also understand what it would be like to find out horrifying secrets about our past.

We now have a few more clues about Adam's past. The Farmers have fled from someone, because Martha states this in the phone conversation with Adam's mother. But what has the entire extended family had to flee as well? Whatever the answer, it is obvious that Adam's mother's sadness is derived from this flight, and from surrendering the life she once led. Her inactive social life indicates that something holds her back from joining their new life, as well.

On a final note, Adam's second birth certificate states that his birthday is July 14, or Bastille Day in France—the day that celebrates the country's independence. Adam's two birthdays celebrate love and freedom, the two things he seeks throughout his journey—the love of his father and freedom.