Robert symbolizes how easily a fascist group can co-opt people who have previously had no power or have been disenfranchised from mainstream society. Before The Wave is introduced, he is bullied and isolated and even characters the readers are supposed to empathize with, such as Laurie, treat him with little more than contempt.
Once this movement is in place, though, he is seen to be a leader among them and is eager to take control when he deems it necessary. He becomes a symbol to warn us about the dangers of isolating and bullying others, and a sign of how shameful a society it is that a fascist group is more welcoming to an outsider figure than a regular high school.
The naming of the group is significant as it refers to movement and implies a natural power. It is a symbol of force and beauty and as Ben tells the students, ‘“a wave is a pattern of change”’. By calling it this, Ben draws on the implications of fascist power, of unity, power and possible destruction of those that are in opposition, and re-brands the negative aspects with a more attractive connotation of the sea.
Use of Mottos and Salutes
Ben solidifies the group when he introduces a name, mottos and a salute. By bringing in this apparatus, the group is in theory drawn together and outsiders are made more obvious (as they will not know the words and actions or, as in Laurie’s case, will not wish to join in). As far-fetched as the effects may seem, it should be remembered that the National Socialists also drew on such details to confirm allegiances.