The Wave: Top Ten Quotations

“He was “contagious”, they’d say, meaning that he was charismatic. He could get through to them” p. 5 Ben’s ability to teach well and to ‘get through’ to the students is also seen to have a negative aspect as his charisma is described as contagious. This sentence suggests the power of the leader may potentially be exploited.

“But that was a long time ago, Laurie. To me it’s like a piece of history. You can’t change what happened then.” p. 18 This response by David represents the outlook that Ben wishes to alter when he sets up the experiment. With The Wave.

“Forget about it. It happened once and the world learned its lesson. It’ll never happen again.”p. 21 This quotation is also by David and once more typifies the mindset that Ben hopes to challenge with The Wave. As the experiment and the novel highlight, David’s assumption is naive and wrong: the world has not learned its lesson and it could happen again.

“It may be an answer they have to learn for themselves.” p. 28 After having researched the background to Germany under the Nazi regime, Ben decides the students might have to learn by example when it comes to understanding how the German population lived under Nazi rule.

“Normally the only time the room was that still, Ross though, was when it was empty.” p. 34 As the class learn the discipline of belonging to The Wave movement, Ben notices the impact it has on the group.

“The strangest thing was, once we started I could feel them wanting more. They wanted to be disciplined. And each time they mastered one discipline, they wanted another. When the bell rang at the end of the period and they were still in their seats, I knew it meant more to them than just a game.” p. 39 In this reference, Ben explains to Christy how the class have begun to feed off the idea of being disciplined to the point of them being hungry for it. This perhaps demonstrates how the participation of the group is a requirement of a successful fascist regime, and the group’s desire for discipline took only a few days to manifest itself.

“It was as if The Wave had taken on a life of its own and now he and his students were literally riding it.: p. 84 In only a short space of time, the momentum of The Wave has caught up the students and teacher in unexpected ways. This demonstrates the dangers of such movements and how they must be questioned from the time they are initiated.

” He recalled those students in his own history classes who had condemned the Jews for not taking the Nazi threat seriously, for not fleeing their homes and ghettos when rumours of the concentration camps and gas chambers first filtered back to them. Of course, Ross thought, how could any rational person believe such a thing? And who could have believed that a nice bunch of high school students like those at Gordon High could have become a fascist group called The Wave?” p. 119 This reference encapsulates both the unthinking initial responses of the history class and the ease with which this same group slipped into believing in a fascist movement. 

“All I can tell you,” Ben said, “is that the Nazis were highly organized and feared. The behaviour of the rest of the German population is a mystery – why they didn’t try to stop it, how they could say they didn’t know. We just don’t know the answers.” p. 13 At this stage in the novel, Ben is attempting to answer the questions of the students and finds it difficult to give a coherent explanation of the behavior of the German population during the Second World War. This difficulty leads him to conduct the experiment (that is The Wave) in order to exemplify how easily a group may be swayed into a fascist response.

“It condemned The Wave as a dangerous and mindless movement that suppressed freedom of speech and thought and ran against everything the country was founded on.” p. 98 This refers to Laurie’s editorial, which condemned The Wave in terms that highlight its parity with a fascist organisation (such as the Nationalist Socialist Party – that is, the Nazis).