The Wednesday Wars

by Gary Schmidt
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How have others filled the father role for Holling in The Wednesday Wars?

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Holling Hoodhood has a hard-working, serious, ambitious father, but the two are not close. Mr. Hoodhood is far more involved in growing his business than in his children’s lives, and he tends to be critical of the perceived shortcomings of both Holling and his sister, Heather. Their mother seems to be completely dominated by her husband, and her love for her children does not translate into active support.

One interesting aspect of the book is that Holling does not seek out a surrogate father figure. He is assigned to a study hall with Mrs. Baker, who soon comes to play a parental role. In part because she is a strong authority figure, especially until Holling gets to know her better, she fulfills aspects of a father’s role. In her nurturing capacity, she seems more maternal.

Mr. Goldman, the owner of the bakery, also plays a paternal role in Holling’s life. He gives the boy an opportunity to work in his bakery. He also expands Holling’s creative capabilities through asking him to perform in a Shakespeare play, although acting as Ariel does bring some negative consequences.

Although the school principal, Mr. Guareschi, is a minor character, he acts in a fatherly capacity when he takes Holling to the hospital after his accident with the bus.

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