I Am The Cheese

– Theme Essay, Research Paper

Heroes are not always credited for their honesty and righteousness. This is the view towards society that Robert Cormier exhibits in the novel ??I am the Cheese??, where the individual is punished for standing up to himself. In this society, the non-valiant are rewarded for their ignorance and compliance, narrated through the characters of Grey and Whipper. Moreover, Robert Cormier portrays this society to be void of truth and justice. This is seen through exploring the innocence behind Adam??s parents?? suffering and death. Nevertheless, the author holds reserve for truth and justice when Adam tries to complete the puzzle of his past.

The character David Farmer, father of the novel??s protagonist, plays the victim of the society in ??I am the cheese.?? Through testifying to the truth, he and his family have had their freedom lacerated, and ultimately, have suffered the penalty of death. David Farmer began the case with the belief that ??he would be protected, his identity kept secret.?? Although aware of the perilous circumstances and the hazards, his determination to act patriotically prevailed. His powerful motive for his precarious action was that ??he was an old-fashioned citizen who believed in doing the right thing for his country, to provide as much information as possible.?? David Farmer was under no obligation to disclose his researched information, and yet chose to take the risk. Clearly, this is an example of an individual standing up to himself, acting accordingly to his own beliefs and values. Nevertheless, David Farmer and his family were punished lethally. Even the interim between the testimony and his death was a metaphor for a cage, an insecure prison bound for the Never Knows, and yet was always destined for death. The example of the bomb that was planted to detonate the entire family and the ??undercover policeman?? whose supposed job was to protect heralded an unending chain of misery.

These events introduced Grey, who identified himself to be involved with the US Department of Re-Identification. Grey, who shot the assassin, was the trusting saviour of David Farmer. Grey warned the Farmer family about the car bomb. He distributed new identities for the entire family, produced new birth certificates and arranged a move to Massachusetts. He was the eternal alert watchdog who packed the family away when chances took their position for a Farmer whereabouts leak. Grey had the power to dismiss 3 lives at his will. Adam??s father described these helpless circumstances as ??We were like puppets, you, your mother, and I?Kas if we had no control over our lives?Kothers pulled the strings and we jumped.?? Obeying whatever was ordered, the family entrusted Grey. Yet, it was the same Grey who incarcerated the family??s freedom, who fleeced all their dreams, who disciplined their lives into his own grasp. It was the same Grey who arranged the execution of the brutal murder, who rewarded loyalty with death. David Farmer??s purpose to testifying to truth was to seek justice and assist the government, but he and his wife were punished through death. Thus in this manner, the view that the individual is punished for standing up to himself has been conveyed through ??I am the cheese.??

On the other hand, a more optimistic view is offered for less distinguished characters in the society, such as Grey and Whipper. Dwelling in the realm of the ordinary, these characters stand up to themselves in their own defined demeanours, though none of which are majestic as David Farmer??s patriotism. Brint, who can be inferred to be Grey through the identification 2222, endured no punishment for his heartless plunder of Adam??s memory. Instead of assisting him to regain his memory, he probes for further information that may have passed to Adam concerning his father??s case. The extent to Brint??s disguise as a psychiatrist or doctor suggests his determination to scrutinise all possible stakeholders of the information. Ultimately, Brint is not punished in any way for his crime.

Similarly, Whipper and his gang, known as the ??toughs?? in the novel, threatened to displace Adam from his bike journey. Playing their own mischievous games, they hold no respect to the society??s moral values. This attitude can be depicted in the menacing invitation to Adam to contest a fight out of no particular motive, as well as the displacement of Adam into a ditch on the roads. As opposed to David Farmer, Whipper and his gang merely camouflage with the rest of the society and are not punished for their wrong doings. Therefore, the society is not portrayed pessimistically for those who mingle as commoners of a society, even when they stand up to themselves.

Truth and justice have no place in the world of ??I am the cheese??, particularly in the lives of Adam??s family. The disguise of Grey, which led to the deaths of Adam??s parents, is a vivid example of deception, dictation and punishment. Grey initially identified himself to be involved in the ??US Department of Re-Identification. It was supposed to protect people. To provide people with new identities. So they could hide?Kfrom those they testified against.?? Through acting continually in the image of a protector by imposing new identities, occupation, residence and lifestyle, he was able to dictate and manipulate the family??s lives. The truth of who he really was and his real aim was never uncovered, not even when Adam??s parents were murdered.

Brint??s deception is a parallel to Grey??s disguise. Denying his real purpose of the interviews, Brint acts like a guide instead of a follower. His canny behaviour is frequently picked up by Adam, who remarked ??What do you really want to know about me? What??s this questioning really about??? Later, Adam says ??I sometimes wonder what??s more important ?V what I find out about myself or what you find out about me.?? There is strong evidence in these comments to suggest that Brint already knows about Adam??s past, but is secretly trying to probe into Adam??s father??s case. When Adam comments ??Now you??re sounding like an investigator again ?V as if you??re looking for specific information that has nothing do with me as a person?? is a further clue to Brint??s deceptive identity. However, it is not disclosed till the end where Personnel #2222, who is Brint, is related to file data 865-01 (the case of David Farmer?? that Brint??s true identity and purpose is revealed. In addition, this information was presented without the knowledge of Adam. Hence, truth is unaccommodated in the world of ??I am the cheese.??

A life ruled by a silent enemy, such as the life of Adam??s family, shows that justice is hollow in the world of ??I am the cheese.?? Adam??s family did nothing to deserve living in constant fear and insecurity. Truth was testified to, and yet they were the sufferers and victims. They were punished more severely, through daily imprisonment, the Never Knows, and through death. Had moral convictions in society been strong, Adam??s family would not have had their homes moved, names and occupations changed, and all dreams that were to be a part of their former life discarded. A similar view is seen through Adam??s mother??s words ??I sometimes think we were too unquestioning, Adam, too naive. Did your father really have to give up newspaper work??? Thorough examining the meaningless and needless losses and sacrifices made by Adam??s family, justice does not find room in ??I am the cheese.??

The cause for Adam??s confinement to a mental institution following the trauma from his parents?? death illustrate the emptiness of justice. Adam has merely trusted those around him and lived accordingly. However, not only has this trust been heavily betrayed, he is used for further investigation. The path to realising what has happened to himself has been a path to decide whether he should be terminated like his parents for Grey. The choice he??s been unknowingly given, to remain in a vegetative state or be eliminated, shows clearly that there is no room for justice in ??I am the cheese.??

On the other hand, Adam is presented with truth when he discovers about his real past. What he overheard from his mother??s conversation with Martha, and then his parents?? conversation abut Grey, in addition to the finding of 2 birth certificates are clues that he used to jigsaw puzzle another identity for himself. Although his parents did not wish for him to be aware of the existence of Paul Delmonte, society presents him with justice by allowing him to question the everyday concerns of his life. For instance, Amy??s phone call that questioned Adam about Rawlings and his father??s erratic behaviour walking to the library suggest to Adam that his knowledge about himself may be a mere cover for something deeper. Through gradual exploration of these everyday incidents, Adam was able to find truth and justice.

Robert Cormier??s ??I am the cheese?? portray a highly pessimistic view of society, where the individual is punished for standing up to himself. This view is explained by the death of Adam??s parents for testifying truth and assisting the government. Yet, the novel dose not offer such a grim attitude towards the people whose lives do not shine as heroically as Adam??s father??s. The novel also convey a lack of truth and justice, as shown through the disguise of Grey, or Brint, and the experiences that Adam??s family went through.


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