In The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, what is Holling happy about one day and the next day seems like he does not really care about it?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Holling Hoodhood is the young protagonist of The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt. Holling attends Camillo Junior High School, and he is the only boy in his class who is not either a Catholic or a Jew. While his classmates leave every Wednesday afternoon to attend their respective religious instructions, Holling is left alone with the dreaded Mrs. Baker, his teacher.

Mrs. Baker is an avid Shakespeare fan, and eventually she and Holling spend their time on Wednesdays studying some of the Bard's greatest works. Though he does not think much of Shakespeare or his work at first, Holling comes to enjoy the language as well as the stories they are reading. 

Each chapter of the novel represents a month in Holling's school year, and there are actually many things in this story which are significant to Holling one day but seem much less significant to him as time passes.

Your question is vague enough that I cannot be certain about which event your question refers, but one of the most significant incidents in which this happens for Holling has to do with his sports hero--Mickey Mantle.

Holling is in a play (long story) and plays the role of Ariel. It is a good experience for Holling, and he does an excellent job with the role once he gets a little interpretation help from Mrs. Baker. Immediately following the performance, Holling does not even wait for a curtain call and tries to change out of his rather outrageous fairy costume but finds the dressing room locked.

The boy rushes out of the theater to find his father who promised to be there to take Holling to go see his hero, Mickey Mantle. of course his father once again disappoints his son by not showing up (the Bing Crosby Christmas Special on television is the lame reason Mr. Hoodhood is unwilling to do what he promised his son he would do). 

Though it is a bit embarrassing for Holling to be out on the streets in his costume, he is determined to get to Baker's Sporting Emporium. A bus driver takes pity on the boy and finally Holling arrives at his destination just before the store closes.

Holling approaches his hero, the person he has spent a ling time admiring, the baseball superstar looks at Holling and says this awful thing:

"I don't sign baseballs for kids in yellow tights."

Holling is crushed at this rude comment, and he does not really even know what to say. His friend Danny sees what happens and, in turn, rather snubs Mickey Mantle on behalf of his friend, Holling. 

Danny is a loyal friend, and he leaves the store with Holling after returning the ball Mantle had signed for him. They walk out into the night together, and the narrator tells us that Holling is crushed. What is true, however, is that 

"when gods die, they die hard."

Of course that means that Holling had put Mantle on a pedestal, but on the day of the signing Mantle demonstrates the reality that he is not the perfect hero that Holling had always believed he was. 

One day he adores--practically worships--the famous baseball legend Mickey Mantle; the next day Holling's hero has essentially faded into nothingness.One day Holling is happy about meeting his hero; the next he has no interest at all in knowing anything about or meeting his former hero, Mickey Mantle.

Read the study guide:
The Wednesday Wars

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