Does Holling's dad ever get compliments about the "Perfect House" in Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars, Holling's father is the only one who cares about "the Perfect House," and the irony is the house isn't really all that perfect. Therefore, no one ever compliments the house; instead, there is much to complain about.

Holling explains his father declared the house to be the "Perfect House" because the house is "right smack in the middle of town," neither on the north side nor the south side, past the drug store, the bakery, the five-and-dime store, and the public library ("September"). It was a white two-story colonial that Mr. Hoodhood worked hard to keep immaculately white, painting it every other year. Holling even explains the sidewalk cement leading up to the house was kept perfectly white, and there was not a single crack in the sidewalk. The walkway leading up to the house was "bordered by perfectly matching azalea bushes, all the same height, alternating between pink and white blossoms" ("September"). Yet, in November, Mr. Hoodhood struggles to keep the Perfect House looking perfect. Holding explains November is a very rainy month on Long Island. Everything looks "gray and damp'; the perfectly white sidewalk is "always wet"; and the azalea bushes grow naked, so his father covers them up with burlap sacks, "which also [get] wet" ("November"). The house gutters also get clogged up, so the rainwater falls dirty from the gutter upon the house, leaving a stain that makes his "father really mad." What's more, during the month of November, they discover a water stain had grown as big as a "garbage can lid" and moldy on the ceiling of the "Perfect Living Room" that no one ever goes into. The ceiling in the living room comes crashing to the floor just before the family leaves for a reception at which Mr. HoodHood will be formally presented with the Chamber of Commerce Businessman of 1967 Award ("February").

Mr. Hoodhood's meticulous care of the house parallels his obsession with his business and his reputation, such as his desire to be elected the Chamber of Commerce Businessman of 1967. Yet, while he is successful on the outside, he is ironically not successful on the inside. In the final chapter of the book, he argues to Hollings that to "become a man. . . you get a good job and you provide for your family. You hang on, and you play for keeps" ("June"). While Mr. Hoodhood does have a good job and does provide to fulfill his family's material needs, he does not provide to fulfill their emotional needs because he constantly lets his children down and belittles their needs, especially their needs for independence.

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The Wednesday Wars

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