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Free Study Guide-I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier-Free Book Notes
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Adam Farmer/ Paul Delmonte

Adam Farmer is a timid and shy teenager. He is the only child of his parents Louise and Dave. He lives in Monument, Massachusetts. He is smart; he wants to be a writer and he loves Amy Hertz. At the beginning of the novel it appears that Adam is going on a bike ride to visit his father in Vermont. However, as the story unfolds, we learn that Adam is a deluded and drugged individual who does not remember much about his life. At the end of the story, the reader learns that Adam, whose real name is Paul Delmonte, and his family have been the victims of corruption in the government. He has actually been in the hospital the entire time and is being drugged so that he might give information to the government. The government is responsible for the murders of his parents. They plan to kill Adam next.

The name Adam is significant because it alludes to Adam from Genesis. The government gave Paul the new name, Adam. This name symbolizes the government’s (particularly Mr. Grey) role as god. Furthermore, Adam lives in proverbial Garden of Eden, until he seeks “knowledge” that has been forbidden to him. Once he receives the knowledge, his innocence is destroyed and he must deal with grown up fears.

David Farmer/ Anthony Delmonte

David Farmer, Adam’s father, is the cause for his family’s entrance into the witness protection program. He was an investigative reporter, who found out too much. David had to redefine himself more that the other members of his family. He grew a mustache, gave up a job he loved, and quit smoking. What was most difficult for Dave was his name change. He is proud of his Italian heritage, yet the government gave him a WASP (White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant) name. Dave tells Adam how it was the Italian immigrants who broke their backs to make their hometown. This name change is very significant--Cormier is showing how the government stole Anthony Delmonte’s ethnic identity and made him more “American.” The irony is that the United States was built on the backs of ethnic and racial minorities: Italians, Irish, Polish, Chinese, African Americans (slave labor) and many others. The WASP groups tended to be more elite, and benefited the most from the work of the others. Yet--it is more American to be WASP.

David is a common name, so there may be no significance in it, other than it is much less ethnically colorful than Anthony. However, considering the other religious imagery in the novel (and Cormier’s Catholic background) David may be a reference to David and Goliath. David was a small man who battled Goliath (a giant). In the same sense David Farmer is battling organized crime and the government. It seems that he was able to beat the corruption of the organized crime when he reported his story and joined witness protection. However, in the end, he is the one that is killed.

Louise Farmer/ Louise Delmonte

Louise is Adam’s mother. She appears withdrawn and quiet. Although, we learn she is distrustful of Mr. Grey and keeps some things that she is not supposed to. Louise’s first name does not change, unlike her husband and son. Perhaps this is because she has had the hardest time changing her identity: she refuses to destroy everything; she keeps in contact with her sister; she would not change her religion.

Louise’s older sister’s name is Martha. In the Bible, Mary (the Mother of Jesus) also had an older sister named Martha. Louise is a Mary figure--much like Mary “let it be done into her” Louise accepts the fate of her family, which is through no action of her own. Furthermore, Louise is very dedicated to her Catholic faith. Catholics have a strong veneration for Mary.

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