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PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
I Am the Cheese has a very unique plot in that it has three stories happening at once: Adam riding his bike to Vermont; Adam talking with Brint; Adamís past tense life. This is a clever technique because Cormier is writing a suspense novel. By creating three separate plot structures, he allows the reader to find out small bits of information at a time. Yet, it is hard to connect all three plots.
Although it is not apparent until the end, this plot is infused with the overall message that government is corrupt and that its citizens are mere puppets in a much larger plan. You do not know who you can trust. This idea is very appropriate to 1977, when the novel was written. The plot was constructed in a time when Americans were disillusioned by Vietnam and Watergate. It was during this period that distrust of government became an everyday event.
The exposition of a plot is the place where the reader is introduced to the main character and any important information to understand what is presently occurring. The exposition of the plot occurs in three places because there are three separate story lines, which will eventually intersect, creating one outcome
The first exposition occurs in the first chapter when it is apparent that Adam is going on a journey to meet his father. This is supposed to be literal for this part of the story: although we learn later that Adam is only riding his bike around on the hospital grounds. This exposition also provides foreshadowing for the rest of the text: Adam is on a figurative journey, in his memory, to rediscover his father, as well as himself and the truth about his life.
The exposition of the story line between T and A (Brint and Adam) occurs in chapter two. At first this is surprising, since the reader thought the story was about a bike ride. This section established the relationship between T and A, although the reader is not yet entirely certain who these characters are.
The exposition of the third story line (Adamís memories of his life) also occurs in chapter two, with Adam as a small child in his bed. He remembers this as when he was ďborn.Ē This statement foreshadows the secret that Adam will eventually discover: Adam Farmer was born that night when his family entered the witness protection program and their real identities were destroyed.
Rising action is the action that will lead to the climax (or the major turning point in the plot). In this novel essentially everything that occurs between the exposition and the climax is rising action. Because this is a story of suspense, each new piece of information brings the reader one step closer to discovering the secret of the Farmer Family.
The climax is the point in the plot where something happens to change the course of action of the main character. It is a decisive moment that will determine the outcome of the plot.
In this novel there are three climaxes: one for each plot line. The past tense story -Adamís recollections of his life--reaches climax first: it is when the family is attacked by the car on the side of the road. From this moment on, Adamís entire life is changed. He will no longer live with his parents. He will be made a victim of the government, and eventually he will be murdered
The climax of present tense Adam--the story of the quest on bike-- is his arrival at the hospital, when it is apparent that he is a regular resident. We learn as he walks through the halls, that he never really was on a journey at all. He was simply riding his bike around the hospital grounds. As he sees different people from the hospital it becomes apparent that he has created all of the characters from his adventure--similar to The Wizard of Oz.
The climax of the tapes--the conversations between Brint and Adam-- comes at the very end of the book: we find out Adam was placed in the facility and medicated to produce his current condition. Agent Grey was behind the murder of his parents. It seems that, as Adamís parents suspected, Grey did not believe Adamís father was giving him all of the information he knew. Adam was placed in the institution and drugged to find out what he might know. The government plans to kill Adam next
There is one general outcome to the story: The government has been using the Farmer/ Delmonte family for its personal gains. When they were through with the family, they attempted to terminate them all. Since Adam survived, they used him as long as it was worthwhile (three years) to try to extract further information. They now plan to kill him too.