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IMPORTANT / KEY FACTS SUMMARY
Title: I Am the Cheese
Author: Robert Cormier
Date of first publishing: 1977
Meaning of the Title: Adam sings the song " The Farmer in the Dell ", which ends "The cheese stands alone." While the doctor refers to him as Paul, Adam knows that who he is: he thinks, "I am the cheese."
Loss of identity is a very important part of this story. Now, without family and without true identity, Adam/Paul is alone.
Type of novel/Genre: Suspense (subset of Mystery)
Point of view: first person (Adam) and third person limited omniscient
Narrator: Present tense - Adam; Past tense - third person
Setting: Multiple: A hospital in Rutterburg, Vermont. Also much takes place in the past when the Farmer family resides in Monument, Massachusetts. Approximately 1977.
Protagonist: Adam Farmer
Antagonist: The Government
Conflict: Man vs. Government
Climax: Three (one for each plot line): 1) When the family is attacked by the car on the side of the road. Adam's parents die. 2) Adam's arrival at the hospital. 3) The climax of the tapes
Outcome: The government killing the family
Rising Action: Essentially everything that occurs between the exposition and the climax
Major Themes: The corruption of government and manipulation of its citizens
Minor Themes: Self-discovery of Identity; Homosexuality
Symbolism/Motifs: The bike, the dog, the song: "Farmer in the dell", Pokey the pig.
Key plot notes:
• The Farmer family resides in Monument, Massachusetts • Adam Farmer is on a quest to discover the truth about who he is and his family secret • There are three intermingling plots: Adam riding his bicycle to find his father; Adam talking with Brint; Adam remembering pieces of his life • The entire time, Adam is really in a hospital--he does not actually ride his bike from Massachusetts to Vermont • Adam’s family was re-identified through the witness protection program because his father discovered information about corruption in government.
• Adam’s parents are killed because agent 2222 (Mr. Grey) tells the family’s adversaries where the Farmers can be found. He does this because it suits the government that the Farmers are terminated.
• Adam survives the incident (being hit by a car) that kills his parents. • Grey takes Adam to a facility where he is drugged into telling another agent (Brint) everything he knows about his father’s involvement in the investigation into the government corruption.
• Adam’s father purposely never told him everything. Adam has been at the facility for three years. He is no longer of any use. The agents are waiting until they find out how they should terminate Adam.
• Took - an old fashioned woolen hat • Witness protection program - Often associated with Mafia and/or drug trials. This program was instituted by the government to provide safety for key witnesses and their relatives. In most cases the government secretly provides completely new and false identities for everyone involved and re-locates the parties to a new location, so those seeking revenge cannot easily locate them.