At the start of the story in Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars, Holling Hoodhood, the protagonist, feels very insecure about himself. One reason he is insecure is because he feels hated at school. As the book progresses, Holling develops stronger relationships with the people around him, which help him become a very confident and brave person.
One reason he feels hated at school is because he knows he is denying his English teacher, Mrs. Baker, her free class period by being the only one left in her class when all his classmates are bused over to either Temple Beth-El or Saint Adelbert's every Wednesday afternoon. The more he works with Mrs. Baker, however, the more he realizes she doesn't hate him; she even helps him with some of his own problems.
Not only does Holling feel hated by his teacher, he begins feeling hated by his classmates, too. Holling's classmates see him with trays of cream puffs when Mrs. Baker asks him to carry them for her from the school kitchen up to her classroom; she will then take them over to Saint Adelbert's for a meeting of the Wives of Vietnam Soldiers. When his classmates see him with the cream puffs, they accuse him of having eaten one when they didn't get any themselves. They then demand he give them all cream puffs upon threat of death, and give him only a limited amount of time to procure the cream puffs:
But the death threats were repeated every day, along with new and colorful descriptions of what would happen if the cream puffs didn't appear. Let me tell you, Danny Hupfer has one bloody imagination, but he is nothing compared to Meryl Lee ("November").
Holling manages to produce the twenty-four cream puffs for his classmates, but the cream puffs are eaten by the escaped rats, Sycorax and Caliban. When Mrs. Baker sees he is in trouble with his classmates for the missing cream puffs, she replaces them herself, allowing Holling to make up with his classmates. By the middle of the story, Holling's perspective of his classmates has changed so much that he declares Danny Hupfer to be his best friend and takes Meryl Lee on a date.