Summary – Chapter Fifteen
Christy returns home and Ben is there already having left work early. He is reading about the Hitler Youth and says he wants to be alone to prepare for tomorrow. She insists on talking to him about The Wave and asks if his original goals are the same and he says he thought she was on his side. Inside, though, he knows what she means. He says he cannot stop right now, not yet anyway and she asks when and if it will be after he or some of the students have done something they will regret.
He says if he stops now he will leave them ‘“hanging”’ and they will not have learned anything. He says he has to push them until they get the point and sees this as potentially ‘“the most important lesson of their lives!”’ She is not impressed by this and says she hopes Principal Owens agrees as he has been looking for him today and wants to speak to him.
The narrative switches to the staff of The Grapevine. They stay after school to celebrate their success and think they have at least struck ‘a serious blow’ against The Wave. Laurie is the last to leave the office. It is dark by now and she tells herself there is nothing to be frightened of. She goes to her locker and sees the word ‘enemy’ has been written on it in red letters. She hears footsteps and she walks down the hallway. She quickens her step as she becomes more frightened. She runs until she gets outside and feels safer.
The narrative shifts to David waiting in the passenger seat of Brian’s van. They are parked near the all-night tennis courts as David knows Laurie comes this way home when it is dark. He and Brian have been waiting for her and when she appears David gets out to catch up to her as he thinks it is better to talk to her alone.
He asks her to slow down and she does so, especially when he says nobody else is coming. She asks where his troops are and he ignores this. He asks her to stop writing items against The Wave as she is causing problems. She says The Wave is doing this and he denies it. He says they want her with them not against them and she shakes her head and says this is not a game as people have been hurt.
She starts to walk away and he says The Wave was used as an excuse to beat up that student and says it is still good for the whole. She still does not want to join, though, and he grabs her arm as she tries to leave. She struggles and refuses to stop writing and he grabs her other arm. He shouts at her and says they will stop her and she cries that she hates them. He is almost out of control and screams ‘“shut up”’ and throws her to the ground.
He is shocked at his actions and drops to his knees and apologizes. He wonders what possessed him and knows at the same time he was denying The Wave was harmful, he hurt his girlfriend. Brian’s van passes them and disappears.
Later, Christy goes to Ben in his study and says he has to end The Wave tomorrow. She says if he does not the principal probably will and the experiment will be a failure and he is risking his reputation as a teacher. She also says he should think of her reputation too.
He knows if it ends abruptly it could be a disaster, but also knows Christy is right. He thinks the students have to end it themselves and to understand why. If not, it will have been for nothing. He says he does not know how to end it and she reminds him he is the leader and he is the one they are following. Although he does not appreciate her sarcasm, he knows she is right. He also knows he has enjoyed his power and he and the students have learned the lesson ‘power taught’. As he thinks, he tells her he has something that might work and only hopes it will.
Christy goes to bed and he considers his plan. Before he goes to bed too, the doorbell rings and he sees it is David and Laurie. He can tell they are shaken and invites them in. They ask for his help concerning The Wave and David says it has taken over and people are afraid to say anything against it. Ben thinks this proved the experiment worked as it has shown them what Nazi Germany might have been like. He also thinks it was ‘too much of a success’.
David reveals how he almost hurt Laurie because of The Wave and although he cannot explain it he thinks the same has happened to others. Laurie urges Ben to stop it and he says he will.
He thinks the students need to feel they were the ones who stopped it. He asks David and Laurie to trust him and so cannot tell them his plans. Before they leave, Ben asks if they know two students who have not joined The Wave. David cannot think of anybody, but Laurie tells him of Carl and Alex. Ben thanks her and asks them to behave the same tomorrow so others do not know they have talked together about this. Laurie agrees reluctantly, after he asks her to trust him, and they leave.
Analysis – Chapter Fifteen
On the insistence of Christy, and after hearing the pleas of David and Laurie, Ben decides finally to draw The Wave experiment to an end. It is of note that it takes Christy to point out to him that he is also succumbing to the power that he has given himself. This exemplifies how influential the experiment has become, as he too falls under the spell and needs a third party to tell him so.
David’s physical reaction to Laurie’s questioning is also of significance as although he stops himself from striking her, he does push her to the ground and attempt to make her agree with him with the use of force. His angry reaction to her criticisms is understandable given that we are asked to believe he has invested his beliefs in this new movement. It is also realistic that he stops himself going further as he recognizes how The Wave has become more important to him than his girlfriend.