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Free Study Guide-I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier-Free Book Notes
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The doctor and Adam talk about how Adam retreated and had to be medicated. Adam says he thinks he knows who the gray man is. Adam tells a story his father used to tell him about the invisible man. The invisible man was a murderer. He was a mailman, and while the cops were waiting for the murderer one night, the mailman was able to go undetected because he was so commonplace. Adam says the gray man was like that in their lives.

Mr. Grey used to come to Adamís house about twice a month on Saturdays. Adamís mother would go to her bedroom and Adamís father and Mr. Grey would go to his recreation room in the cellar. Mr. Grey seemed like a nothing man to Adam.

One Saturday morning Adam was waiting for a phone call from Amy. Mr. Grey came to the door. He and Adamís father went downstairs, as usual. Thinking of Amy, Adam decided Mr. Grey was a perfect target for one of her Numbers. He went downstairs to listen in on the conversation between Mr. Grey and his father. Adamís father saw him.

Adam felt terrible about spying on his father. He told his father that he was going to Amyís house, but instead sat and thought about what to do. He went to his parentsí room to apologize for spying. Instead, he heard a whispered conversation between the two. They were talking about Grey, whose name was also Thompson and perhaps many others. Adamís father told his mother that he knew Adam was getting suspicious. He said despite what Grey/ Thompson said, they had to do something about Adam.

Adam went down to the recreation room. He waited for his father to come down. Adam told his father he knew something was going on. His father said he would tell him because he deserved to know.

Adam tells Brint that his father told him everything. His real name is Paul Delmonte.


This chapter is a turning point of sorts. In it we learn the narratorís true identity and we begin to understand that his life must change. Chapter 23 is essentially a continuation of this chapter and should be viewed as such. They are divided only to enhance the atmosphere of suspense.



Adamís fatherís real name was Anthony Delmonte. They were from the town Blount, New York--settled long ago by northern Italians. Anthony earned a degree at Columbia University and then a masterís degree in journalism. He worked for the newspaper and was promoted to write as a political reporter. He loved the written word.

He married Louise Nolan, Adamís mother. Bother of her parents had died (so had Anthonyís parents); she had an older sister. Soon after, they had Adam.

Adam notes that Brint seems impatient and asks him if it is more important for Adam to learn about himself or for Brint to learn about Adam.

Adam continues to remember. His father was involved in some sort of investigation in which he discovered information about the government and crime. He was asked to testify in Washington D.C. He had to hide in hotel rooms and could only visit his family with guards present. His father did not give him too much information so that if he were ever forced to take a lie detector test, or truth serum was used on him, he would be all right.

Someone had planted a bomb in Anthonyís car. He was saved because a policeman observed two people placing it in the car, and had the car towed. Three nights later, his father worked late and felt uneasy. The police officer on duty was a hired hit man and held a gun to Anthonyís head. Just before he could shoot Anthony, the policeman was shot. Then Mr. Grey appeared. Mr. Grey worked for the United States Government in the Department of Re-Identification. It was one of his men who killed the assassin.

Anthony became convinced that he had to join the program when Louise received a call saying that two funeral masses would be reserved next week for her husband and son. Her punishment would be living alone.

Adam tells Brint that the program was not foolproof in those days and they frequently goofed. An example is how they gave Adam the wrong birth date. Grey wanted him to have the same date so they would not slip up. Adamís father was angry about the name Farmer. He was Italian and Louise was Irish--both of them Catholic. Adamís father said Farmer was a WASP name (White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant).

Adam tells Brint that he looks bored as though he has heard all this before. Brint tells him he is being ridiculous and asks why they moved to Monument, Massachusetts. Adam says it is because his mother wanted to remain in the North East. The he grows pale. He remembers something new.

Adamís father showed him an article that had been published in the paper in Blount. It said that their family had been killed in a car crash.


This chapter takes a new direction, directly inserting suspicious about Brint. The story is taking place on two levels: we are learning about Adamís past; Adamís is suspicious of Brint. Thus far, Brint has appeared to be a psychologist. However, given the new information about Adam and his past--we must be suspicious. The reader is in a similar place as Adam: we have only a few details that are slowly being pieced together. The reader should share Adamís suspicion of Brint.

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