What events from The Wednesday Wars show Holling has grown up throughout the school year?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hello! Here are two events from The Wednesday Wars which show that Holling has grown up throughout the school year:

1) Holling Hoodhood is unhappy to be stuck with Mrs. Baker on Wednesday afternoons just because he does not attend Catechism at Saint Adelbert's or Hebrew School at Temple Beth-El. When Mrs. Baker eventually informs Holling that they have been wasting their afternoons together and that they will now redeem their time by reading Shakespeare, Holling is even more unhappy:

Teachers bring up Shakespeare only to bore students to death. And I was going to be bored to death for eight months. No human being could stand it.

However, he soon learns that Shakespearean characters struggle with the same challenges and trials in life as any modern individual. He is shocked that the plays include "storms, attempted murders, witches, wizards, invisible spirits, revolutions, characters drinking until they are dead drunk..." He imagines Mrs. Baker did not read any of it herself, for she would censor such reading if she knew. Holling is thrilled that Shakespearean characters are not immune to indulging in occasional swearing. One of his favorites:

A southwest blow on ye and blister ye all o'er!

As Holling works through The Tempest, Merchant Of Venice, and Romeo And Juliet with Mrs. Baker, he learns that there are special lessons Mrs. Baker is trying to teach him and that the Shakespearean plays are just a vehicle for those life lessons. He imagines that his own father is like Shylock, trapped in a role everyone expects of him. Holling learns from Shakespeare and Mrs. Baker that he needs to forge his own path in life in order to realize his true potential and true purpose.

2) Holling learns that life is often filled with unhappiness and trials that we do not choose for ourselves. He also learns to decide his own reactions rather than to let events beyond his control decide his future and his character. When Holling is tasked with playing the role of Ariel in the Shakespeare Holiday Extravaganza, he is not too thrilled about being dressed up in yellow tights. The only thing that cheers him up is the possibility of getting an autograph from Mickey Mantle, a famous baseball player who is making his appearance at the Baker Sporting Emporium that evening. After the play, Holling looks for his father, but he is nowhere to be seen. His father and mother both choose to stay home to watch television rather than to attend Holling's play. Holling hitches a ride from a kind bus driver to the stadium. When he gets there, he has a rude awakening. Mickey Mantle disparages Holling's costume and arrogantly refuses to sign his autograph. Holling is crushed:

When gods die, they die hard... It hurts more than anything you can talk about. And maybe worst of all is, you're not sure if there will ever be another god to fill their place. Or if you'd ever want another god to fill their place...

Holling learns to understand that he is not the only one who knows about suffering. The suffering of Mrs. Bigio (who has lost her soldier husband in Vietnam) reminds him of the unfairness of life. He learns not to complain. His grown up attitude is rewarded when Mrs. Baker surprises him, Danny, and Doug with brand new baseballs and mitts. They are to meet and break in the mitts with Joe Pepitone and Horace Clarke, "the two greatest players to put on Yankee pinstripes since Babe Ruth," at the school gym. Holling comes to realize that while life is full of challenges, it is also full of goodness:

When they drove off, it felt like a place inside me had filled again.

Hope this helps. Thanks for the question!

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The Wednesday Wars

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