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Hello! You asked about the novel Wonder by RJ Palacio. This book is about August Pullman, a ten year old boy who is about to start fifth grade at Beecher Prep. August has a severe cranio-facial abnormality (mandibulofacial dysostosis); this has required twenty-seven surgeries on his face since birth.
You asked about August's father. Here are some things you might consider about August's father as you ponder his place in the novel:
1) His concern for his son's ability to adapt to a school environment.
Mr. Pullman wants to do the right thing by August. He is worried that August might not be able to flourish at Beecher Prep. It is a difficult school to get into, and although August does well on the admissions test, he likens August going to Beecher Prep to "sending him off to middle school like a lamb to the slaughter." He is afraid, for different reasons than August, but chooses to use his humor to comfort his family.
2) His humor as a way of showing his care and love for his son.
Mr. Pullman knows that August is afraid. He does not scold him; instead, he uses his own brand of humor to cheer August up by making jokes about Mr. Tushman's (Beecher Prep's principal) name. He goes on to say that Mr. Tushman should go on a blind date with Miss Butt, one of his former college professors. Mr. Pullman uses humor to defuse a stressful situation and also puts August a little bit more at ease with the idea of attending Beecher Prep.
3) August's father manages to make all his children feel loved despite the challenges they face as a family.
When he goes in to say goodnight to Via, he asks about her day in high school. Although she tells him it was fine, he tells her that he doesn't believe it for a second. This comment helps Via to open up to him that her friends, Miranda and Ella, are acting like jerks. He teases her about reading War And Peace but Via knows that he is proud to have a "fifteen year old who is reading Tolstoy." Via tells us that her father always manages to make everyone laugh, and "sometimes, that's all you need to feel better." Mr. Pullman is very closely involved in his children's lives.
4) Although Mr. Pullman is a protective father, he also makes room for his children to experience new things as they mature.
When Via objects to being picked up from school by Miranda's mother, Mrs. Pullman can't understand what the fuss is all about. She is worried about Via taking the subway home on her own. After all, Mr. Pullman accompanies Via part of the way on the trains in the mornings, and she doesn't want Via using the subway all by herself after school. Mr. Pullman tells his wife to relax, that Via is old enough to take the subway on her own. After all, he reasons that any fifteen year old who is reading War And Peace could probably handle the subway pretty well.
5) Mr. Pullman is a source of strength to his family. He does not further burden his family with his own grief when their dog, Daisy, dies. Instead, he holds Daisy as the vet injects the dog and she dies peacefully in Mr. Pullman's arms.
August's father supports his family through stressful times; he does not let anyone see his grief after Daisy's death; when August unwittingly catches his father crying, he is surprised, as he has never seen his father cry before.
"It was the quietest I've ever heard. Like a whisper."
Ok, hope this gives you some material to work with. Thanks for the question! Great book.
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