How are Mr. Maxwell and Mark alike in A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements?

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements, Mr. Maxwell and Mark Robert Chelmsley do not seem to have much in common; however, they do share several of the same characteristics.

First, they both make rather hasty judgments based on little evidence. When Mark finds out he has to move from Scarsdale, New York, to New Hampshire, he assumes that he is going to hate it--and of course he does, since that is the attitude he brought with him to his new home. Mr. Maxwell is also quick to make a judgment, assuming Mark is a spoiled slacker because he comes from a wealthy family.

[T]he only people Mr. Maxwell disliked more than slackers were environmentally insensitive, buy-the-world rich folks...[and] their lazy, spoiled kids.

Both of them have to amend their initial impressions once they stop making assumptions and look at the realities.

The two of them, teacher and student, both love the outdoors. It is true that Mark's love of nature does not begin until he moves to New Hampshire, but once he is there he does begin to enjoy camping and other outdoor pursuits. Mr. Maxwell, of course, has long had a love for the outdoors, which is why he is so excited to host "A Week in the Woods" every year. 

Finally, they are both willing to admit that they were wrong. Mark makes his discovery much earlier than his teacher and tries to make amends, but Mr. Maxwell is not ready to admit that he was wrong about what he sees as a spoiled rich boy. Later, though, Mr. Maxwell has to apologize both for assuming that Mark is the one who brought the knife to the camp and for refusing to admit that Mark might have changed. 

It is clear that these two characters eventually have a lot things in common; however, it sure does not seem like it until some time has passed and they learn to look beyond their prejudices.