Are there any examples of onomatopoeia in The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Onomatopoeia is literary device in which a word sounds like what it means. For example, pop, hiss, and sizzle are all words that sound like what they mean. Holling Hoodhood is the narrator of The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, and he is a rather dramatic seventh-grader. Because of that, he is a lively storyteller and uses vivid language throughout the entire novel. In fact, it was quite easy to locate at least five examples of onomatopoeia.

  • Every time we hear about Sycorax and Caliban, Holling describes them as “clacking their yellow teeth.” (Obviously, this is a sound which rather freaked Holling out.)
  • Once the rats escape their cages, Holling says, "We heard heavy pattering across the asbestos ceiling tiles." Pattering is just the right onomatopoetic word, as we can imagine the muffled sounds of their feet pattering above us as the creatures scurry across the ceiling.
  • In the Perfect Room of the Perfect House (Holling's house), he describes a "roaring fire." We know this is onomatopoeia because we know this is different than, say, a sputtering fire or a crackling fire. This fire is going full blast, and it sounds like it is roaring.
  • When Holling has a chance to get a little revenge on Doug Sweiteck's brother by throwing a snowball at him, he describes it this way: "His face turns toward me at the last moment, and the snow-ice-slush-spitball splatters against his nose." Splatters, of course, is the example of onomatopoeia.
  • After he threw the snowball, Holling says, "I went back to Mrs. Baker’s classroom and sat down squishily." No explanation necessary.

These few instances tell you that Holling likes to use lively and expressive language to convey his story through each of his senses. Onomatopoeia is an example of just that kind of language.

rbrown1983 | Student

Onomatopoeia is word that is formed due to the association of this word with a sound. In Wednesday Wars, Holling describes Mrs. Baker’s voice of as kind of “crackly” during roll call when calling out his name, this would be an example of onomatopoeia. When Holling goes home, a description of his living room (which has a piano) also includes this literary device: “But in anyone ever walked in and plinked a key…” (page 6). The word “plinked” refers to the sound the piano keys make, and therefore fits the definition of onomatopoeia.   

patelnish98 | Student

describing a sound into a motion for instants mrs.baker's is crackly sounds like that


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The Wednesday Wars

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