The Wave

How Isolation Can Influence Rash Decisions: Character Analysis of Robert Billings 11th Grade

In the novel The Wave by Morton Rhue (the pen name for Todd Strasser), a history teacher conducts an experiment to understand Nazi Germany's influence on its people. However, students turn against each other and terrorize those who are not part of The Wave. Robert Billings is a vital character who develops significantly throughout the novel, and in a manner that calls attention to the disturbing nature of Rhue's message. In a dramatic shift, he transitions from class loser to a blind follower of The Wave as the school loses all independence and uniqueness.

Robert Billings is no doubt portrayed as the class loser in the novel and Rhue describes him as a "...Heavy boy with shirt tails perpetually hanging out and his hair always a mess as if he never bothered to comb it." He is illustrated as a weak-willed individual, shy and has no reason to try anything. He says "I don't care...there's no point in trying anyway." He appears as a lost cause, a boy who can not hope to live up to his brother's standards as his brother was an extremely successful and popular student. At the start of the novel, Robert has no purpose, he finds himself isolated and it leaves him no reason in making an effort in anything.

As The Wave begins to develop....

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