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Encyclopedia > The Wave (book)

The Wave is a young adult novel by Todd Strasser under the pen name Morton Rhue. It is a novelization of a teleplay by Johnny Dawkins for the movie The Wave, a fictionalized account of the "Third Wave" teaching experiment by Ron Jones that took place in a Cubberley High School history class in Palo Alto, California. Image File history File links Emblem-important. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Todd Strasser (born May 5, 1950 in New York, New York) is an American author of more than 120 young-adult and middle grade novels and novelizations, the latter written under the pen name Morton Rhue. ... For other uses, see The Third Wave (disambiguation). ... Ron Jones was a teacher in Palo Alto, California, USA. He started The Third Wave. ... Cubberley Community Center is a community center in Palo Alto, California that is housed on the campus of the former Cubberly High School, which was closed in 1979 as a result of declining enrollment. ... Location in Santa Clara County and the state of California Coordinates: , Country State County Santa Clara Government  - Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto[1] Area  - City 25. ...


The setting of The Wave is California 1964. The plot revolves around the high school's history teacher Ben Ross who cannot answer the question of why the Nazis would follow Hitler and act in a manner inconsistent with their own pre-existing moral values. The only way he can see to answer the question is to start an experiment that shows the students what it may have been like in living in Nazi Germany.

Ben starts by having the class sit up straight and obey his commands by, at first, standing at attention beside their desks and having to say "Mr. Ross..." before answering questions he asked them. After seeing the students' reactions toward the experiment he decides to continue it the next day by creating a salute, a symbol and addressing three mottos he made up; Strength through Discipline, Strength through Community, Strength through Action. At first, students are skeptical about The Wave, but after seeing how everyone becomes equal, and that the stress of making choices are lifted, the class falls into The Wave, and begins to recruit others into it.

Soon, Laurie, a girl in Ben's class, starts to think that The Wave is having too much of an impact. A huge majority of the school is in The Wave. She sees that people are being attacked when they don't join The Wave. Using her influence as the School Newspaper Editor, she releases an entire issue of The Grapevine dedicated to showing the dangers of The Wave. While some thank her, especially teachers and parents, others do not. Laurie's boyfriend David, who has been in The Wave since the beginning, tries to get her to stop bad-mouthing The Wave. He eventually shoves her to the floor and realizes what harm The Wave has done to him and what a monster it truly is.

After talking with his wife Christy, who also works at the school, Ross realizes the evil side of The Wave and is determined to stop it. But he must do it in a way to teach them what The Wave was started for in the first place. He calls a Wave meeting in the auditorium and requests that only Wave members be present. Ben tells The Wave members that they are about to see the leader of the whole organization and that he is going to speak to all of them on television to create an international Wave Party for Youths. Everyone is shocked when Mr. Ross reveals that there is no leader. However, Mr. Ross tells the audience that if there were a leader, it would be the man on the projector, Adolf Hitler. He explains how their obedience turned them into Nazis. The shocked students, drop everything they have of the Wave, and slowly leave the gym. As Ben turns to leave, the one person who really flourished in the Wave, Robert Billings, is standing alone, upset that The Wave ended. During The Wave he finally was excepted as an equal, no one picked on him, he had friends, and then it was over. Ben Ross tries to cheer him up by commenting on his tie and suit, and they walk out together. The main thing to remember, and what the students took out of the auditorium with them is that they were brainwashed, caught up in the excitement of it all, and would literally do anything their leader desired, even a Holocaust. Hitler redirects here. ... For other uses, see Holocaust (disambiguation) and Shoah (disambiguation). ...


  • Ben Ross - An intelligent history teacher who is the leader of the Wave and gets too caught up in his own experiment.
  • Laurie Saunders - An intelligent girl in Ben Ross' History class, who enjoys and supports The Wave at first but continuously resists it after wittnessing the effects it has on free will.
  • David Collins - Laurie's boyfriend who comes to realize that the Wave is bad when he nearly hurts her while trying to force her to participate, breaking up with her while being nearly violent. He makes up to her afterwards.
  • Amy Smith - Laurie's best friend who feels that she has to 'keep up' with Laurie. During the story their relationship becomes increasingly fractured because of the Wave.
  • Robert Billings - A weak and shy student, who purks under the shadows of his overachieving brother, and is considered the class loser; everyone makes fun of him. He flourishes in the Wave, his first time being socially accepted, and thus tries to defend the Wave with harsh measures. He is very unkempt and does not care about school, until he accepts the Wave and makes many friends as a result.
  • Christy Ross - Ben's loyal, loving wife (music teacher at Gordon High) who persuades her husband to end the experiment.
  • Principal Owens - The principal of the school. He comes under increasing pressure for allowing the experiment to continue. He threatens to fire Ben Ross if the Wave does not end.


  • Ron Jones (1972) The third wave account of the teacher, online
  • Morton Rhue: The Wave. Puffin Books 1988, ISBN 0-14-037188-5
  • Ron Jones: No Substitute for Madness: A Teacher, His Kids, and the Lessons of Real Life Island Pr 1981, ISBN 0933280068

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