1. Cormier’s novels are often compared to J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and John Knowles’s A Separate Peace. Research critical opinion on either of these earlier novels and compare the author’s attitude toward disillusionment and youth with your view of Cormier’s opinions.
2. Many books and articles have appeared in recent years about the existence of a secret or covert government that controls government policy and individual lives. Many of the authors of these are “insiders” who were part of the system they describe. Research this area and determine whether Adam’s experiences have any basis in reality.
3. An important study of modern youth is a book called Identity: Youth and Crisis by the celebrated psychologist Erik Erikson. Read his book and apply its ideas to your interpretation of I Am the Cheese.
4. Betrayal by those whom society trusts, particularly those whom youths trust, is an important part of this novel. Analyze the different kinds of “treason” in the book.
5. Part of Cormier’s method is to allow readers to share Adam’s confusion about what is real and what is not. Analyze the different strains of the narrative and other devices the author uses. Explain how Cormier accomplishes this feeling of disorientation.
6. Cormier has defined evil as “the destruction of innocence.” Explain how this idea operates in the novel.
7. Although Adam’s experience is not typical, teenagers have experiences that increase their awareness of the corruption of society. Describe experiences of this type that you or your friends have had and show how they increased your awareness or altered your social views.
8. Adam searches for “identity” in the novel. Analyze and describe the search and its stages as well as the characters who are part of it. What identity, if any, does Adam attain?