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THEMES / THEME ANALYSIS
The corruption of government and manipulation of its citizens
This theme is interesting, because it is not absolutely manifest throughout the entire novel. Because this is a suspense plot, the facts come slowly; however, the overall theme is that the government is often corrupt and its citizens pay the price.
The Delmonte family pays in three ways for the corrupt government: loss of their identity, fear for their lives, and loss of their lives. Although it seems that the witness protection program is aiding the Delmonte family, we must recall that it was government corruption (government involvement with organized crime) that began the problem. The government renamed the Delmontes and kept very close watch on them. The entire time the family was protected by the government, they were afraid that they might be killed; they also did not fully trust agent 2222. Finally, because it suited to government agent 2222 let the Delmontesí adversaries kill them. They then manipulated Adam for information. They plan to kill Adam too.
Cormier builds a clever web of religious symbolism in which the federal government plays God. The government makes the family feel as though they are its only solution for safety. It controls their entire lives. It terminates them when it pleases. Many Americans in the 1970s were experiencing a similar disillusionment with the federal government. It appeared to many that the government was sacrificing American lives for its own agenda. In the same way, the government in I Am the Cheese is sacrificing the Delmonte family because it suites its purposes. Adam tells Brint he does not always think he is human. Brint, as a government agent does not value human life above all.
POINT OF VIEW
This story is told both from the first person and from the third person. In Adamís account of his bike ride, it is necessary that the story is told in the first person because the story is not really happening at all--it is insight into a deluded mind. The past tense accounts of Adamís life are in the third person. The narrator (not Adam in these parts, but a detached voice) has access only into the thoughts and feeling of Adam; this is called a limited omniscient point of view.