The View from Saturday Questions and Answers
by E. L. Konigsburg

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In The View from Saturday by Konigsburg, how did Julian solve the book bag graffiti problem?

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Julian solves the problem of the book bag graffiti by manipulating the letters scrawled there into saying something positive instead of something negative.

Julian Singh arrives at school on his first day at Epiphany carrying a leather book bag. As Ethan notes,

"ever since backpacks were invented, no one - ever - in the entire school system, grades K through twelve, carries a book bag, especially a leather one."

Julian's book bag, as well as his mannerisms and way of dressing, mark him as being different, and middle school students can be especially cruel to those who do not fit in. Hamilton Knapp, the class bully, immediately targets Julian as an object of torment, and on Julian's third day at Epiphany, Ham and some friends grab the newcomer's book bag and run off with it. Julian bravely confronts the boys to retrieve his bag, but before he can get it back, they write

"I am a ass"

on it with a black felt tip pen. Julian keeps the side of the book bag with the writing on it against the wall in his cubby that day, and when he walks he hides it against his leg. That night at home, finding that the ink used to desecrate his bag is permanent, Julian ingeniously squeezes a "p" between "a" and "ass," and adds to the unkind message so that it now reads,

"I am a passenger

on Spaceship Earth."

In this way, Julian shows ingenuity in making a cruel message into a positive, interesting one. Seeing by his reaction to the incident that he is not easily ruffled, the kids stop harrassing Julian so much (Chapter 3).

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