When the Souls beat the eight-grade team to achieve the unprecedented feat of becoming the first sixth-grade team to represent a school, they went on to face Knightsbridge for the district championship. The day before the contest, the principal of Knightsbridge approached Mrs. Olinski and condescendingly said that he had told Knightsbridge's coach "that she could expect to be hung if she let (Mrs. Olinski's) sixth grade grunges beat (them) out". Mrs. Olinski spiritedly replied that, much as she respected their coach, Knightsbridge's principal might want to start buying rope.
As a result of Knightsbridge's challenge, the noose became a symbol of the prowess of the Souls, playfully tying in with Knightsbridge's principal's comment that his coach would hang if his team lost to Epiphany. Epiphany Students wore small pieces of rope pinned on their shirts to show their allegiance, and when the Souls beat Knightsbridge, one student placed a noose over the antenna of Mrs. Olinski's van (Chapter 8). When Epiphany supporters discovered they needed money to charter buses to take them to Albany to watch the Souls compete in the prestigious Academic Bowl, Century Village came up with a fundraising idea to help raise the money. They commissioned Bella Dubinsky to design a T-shirt; fittingly, she adorned the shirt with a picture of a noose, the implication being that the Souls had caused the demise of their district opponents, and would do the same to all other comers. When it was suggested that she at least put the name of the school under the picture of the noose, Bella refused, saying "Less is more". With this statement, she was echoing one made earlier by Nadia, when the Souls were trying to settle on a name for their group (Chapter 3). Just as "The Souls" said all that needed to be said about the four friends, so the noose spoke for itself; there was no need to add words to explain its significance (Chapter 9).