Morton Rhue's novel The Wave is divided into 17 short chapters. In these, the author follows the course of an experiment that teacher Ben Ross conducts with his history class. The chapter summary gives a brief but precise overview of the content of the individual chapters and presents the main story lines. In this way, it is possible to follow which characters act at what time and in what way, which makes it much easier to keep track of the events in the novel.
Setting: Gordon High School
Time: Day 1 of the event (unspecified)
Characters: Laurie Sanders, Amy Smith, Ben Ross, David Collins, Robert Billings, Brian Ammon, David Collins, Brad
Summary: Laurie Sanders, the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper The Gordon Grapevine, sits in the publication office and is annoyed that her colleagues are far less ambitious than she is. Together with her best friend Amy Smith, she makes her way to class for history lesson. History teacher Ben Ross has problems with the video projector and gets Laurie's boyfriend, football player David Collins, to help him.
Ben Ross complains about the lack of discipline of some students and announces harsher punishments in the future. Three other students are briefly introduced: Brian Ammon, a high school football star with poor grades, Robert Billings, the constant class failure, and his rival Brad.
Setting: Gordon High School, classroom
Time: Day 1 (late morning)
Characters: Ben Ross, Laurie Sanders, Amy Smith, Robert Billings, students in Ben Ross's history class
Summary: Ben Ross is teaching a history lesson on the Second World War. To make the atrocities of the Nazis in the concentration camps clear to his students, he has brought a film about this. The students are deeply affected and shaken, especially Amy and Laurie.
The class discusses how it was possible that a large part of the German population tolerated the actions of the Nazis and why there was hardly any resistance. Most of the students are sure that something like this cannot happen a second time. After class, Ben Ross talks to Robert Billings about his poor performance. Robert thinks that he can never live up to the ideal image of his older, successful brother and that is why he does not even try.
Setting: Cafeteria, publication office of the school newspaper
Time: Day 1 (noon)
Characters: Laurie, David, Amy, Brian, Carl Block, Alex Cooper
Summary: Laurie and David have lunch together and talk about the film they have just seen. Laurie is clearly more affected by the events shown than David. Amy and Brian join them, they all now talk about the upcoming football game. The school team, of which Brian and David are members, is significantly behind in training and performance.
After dinner, the girls retire to the publication office and talk. It becomes clear that Amy always sees her friendship with Laurie as a competition for popularity, school grades, and boys. Then Carl Block and Alex Cooper show up. Both are writers for The Gordon Grapevine but don't take their jobs very seriously.
Setting: In the house of the Ross family
Time: Day 1 (evening)
Characters: Ben Ross, Christy Ross
Summary: Ben Ross wonders why he couldn't give the students in history class a more precise answer to the question of why the German population followed the Nazis. He also fails to find satisfactory answers in numerous books. When his wife Christy comes home from tennis with friends, he discusses the experiences in class with her. However, she hardly takes him seriously. Ben has an idea: he plans an experiment that would inspire the students more than any book.
Time: Day 2 (morning)
Characters: History Class, Ben, David, Brian, Amy, Robert, Christy
Summary: Ben writes “Strength through discipline” on the blackboard and explains to the students that you must have a strong sense of discipline to achieve your goals. After all, with di...