The Wednesday Wars

by Gary Schmidt
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In The Wednesday Wars, how was Holling's cream-puff dilemma resolved?

Holling's cream-puff dilemma in The Wednesday Wars can actually be divided into two dilemmas, and the first is resolved when he makes the poor decision to keep quiet instead of admitting that the cream puffs have been covered in chalk dust and are not safe to eat. The second dilemma remains unresolved, because despite managing to get cream puffs for his friends, they are eaten by some escaped pet rats. Holling's friends are therefore still angry with him.

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In order to understand how Holling's multifaceted cream puff dilemma was resolved, we need to understand how it started. While spending time in Mrs. Baker's classroom because he was neither Catholic nor Jewish and thus did not attend any kind of religious instruction, Holling is asked to carry some trays of cream puffs into the room. After doing this, she asks him to clean some chalkboard erasers, and in doing so, the chalk dust settles on the cream puffs.

This is where the first part of his dilemma begins: does he speak up and get reprimanded, or keep quiet and hope for the best? He chooses the second approach, and is rewarded for his "good work" with a cream puff, before all the ladies who eat the cream puffs wind up choking on them.

The second part of Holling's cream-puff dilemma begins when his friends discover that he was given a cream puff and they were not. They insist that it is somehow Holling's obligation to get them all cream puffs. The dilemma arises because Holling has no money to buy cream puffs, and the baker rejects his offer of working for him in order to buy the required puffs.

Holling's friends discover that Holling received a cream puff, and they are upset that they did not. They demand that Holling gets them a cream puff. The baker does, however, need help with Shakespeare, and since Holling knows a lot about this subject thanks to his sessions with Mrs. Baker, he is able to impress the baker and get his cream puffs, on condition that he agrees to perform in an upcoming Shakespeare performance.

Unfortunately for Holling, his dilemma remains unresolved, because some escaped pet rats eat the cream puffs that Holling has earned through his surprising knowledge of Shakespeare.

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