In Gary D. Schmidt's novel The Wednesday Wars, what is a key personality trait of Mr. Hoodhood, the father of the young protagonist Holling Hoodhood? Cite an example from the text of where that...

In Gary D. Schmidt's novel The Wednesday Wars, what is a key personality trait of Mr. Hoodhood, the father of the young protagonist Holling Hoodhood? Cite an example from the text of where that trait is illustrated.

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vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Gary D. Schmidt’s novel The Wednesday Wars, Holling Hoodhood is a junior high school student whose father, Mr. Hoodhood, is an architect who is proud of his professional skills, highly concerned about the survival and success of his architectural business, and interested in making sure that the business still exists when Holling himself is old enough to inherit it.

All these characteristics of Mr. Hoodhood are illustrated during the first discussion between him and Holling depicted in the book.  Holling is convinced that one of his teachers, Mrs. Baker, hates him. He tries to explain this perception to his father, but Mr. Hoodhood seems far more interested in the fate of his business than in his son’s worries about life at school. Mr. Hoodhood immediately assumes that if any teacher is hostile toward his son, his son must have done something to provoke the hostility. Mr. Hoodhood cannot imagine that a teacher would “hate” Holling without reason.

When Mr. Hoodhood discovers that the teacher in question is Mrs. Baker, he immediately reports that the broader Baker family is about to select an architect for a new building it is planning for its own business. Mr. Hoodhood’s own firm is one of the leading contenders for the contract. Mr. Hoodhood therefore asks,

“So, Holling, what did you do that might make Mrs. Baker hate your guts, which will make other Baker family members hate the name of Hoodhood, which will lead the Baker Sporting Emporium to choose another architect, which will kill the deal for Hoodhood and Associates, which will drive us into bankruptcy, which will encourage several lending institutions around the state to send representatives to our front stoop holding papers that have lots of legal words on them – none of them good – and which will mean that there will be no Hoodhood and Associates for you to take over when I’m ready to retire?”

In one long series of questions, then, Mr. Hoodhood is effectively characterized. His first instinct is to suspect his son of misbehavior.  His second instinct is to assume that whatever infraction his son has committed may damage his business.  His third instinct is to assume (perhaps with self-conscious exaggeration) that the damage may be catastrophic and will hurt not only him but his son as well.

Obviously the quoted paragraph is meant by the narrator to be funny, and perhaps even Mr. Hoodhood himself intends it to be funny and is merely teasing his son.  However, it is significant that when Holling next goes to his sister to explain his situation, she immediately intuits the kind of response Holling has already received from their father:

“It might hurt a business deal, right? So he won’t help the Son Who Is Going to Inherit Hoodhood and Associates.”

Apparently their father has used before (apparently often before) the kind of logic he has just used in his discussion with Holling.  The sister is so familiar with this kind of logic that she treats it as if it is a predictable cliché. Both this comment by the sister and also the discussion recounted above suggest that there is good reason, at this point in the book, to assume that Mr. Hoodhood is not merely having fun with Holling but that he is indeed typically and vocally concerned with the welfare of his architectural business.

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The Wednesday Wars

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