In the chapter titled "January" of Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars, one thing Mrs. Baker knows that Holling doesn't is Shakespeare is using Macbeth to say "something about what it means to be a human being." One of Mrs. Baker's most important statements of what Shakespeare is trying...
In the chapter titled "January" of Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars, one thing Mrs. Baker knows that Holling doesn't is Shakespeare is using Macbeth to say "something about what it means to be a human being." One of Mrs. Baker's most important statements of what Shakespeare is trying to teach, a statement that shapes the major theme of the chapter, is the following:
... And that compared with love, malice is a small and petty thing. ("January")
At first Holling disagrees with her. He fails to see how malice, meaning the urge to intentionally hurt someone, can be such a "petty thing" since he has just been publicly humiliated by Doug Swieteck's brother, who plastered the town's schools with clippings of a newspaper photo depicting Holling playing Ariel dressed in yellow tights decorated with white feathers on the backside. It's when Holling receives restitution for the humiliation that he finally sees the wisdom of Mrs. Baker's words.
Holling first tries to take his revenge by decking Doug Swieteck's brother with a hard, icy snow ball, but Holling's moment of glory doesn't last long because, soon, Doug Switeck's brother and his juvenile delinquent friends are threatening to deck Holling with a barrage of snowballs. Yet, the fates intervene and help restore Holling's glory, and Holling's love for his sister plays a big role in his restitution.
Just as the line of juvenile delinquents are about to pelt Holling with snowballs, a school bus that has lost control on the icy road comes sliding past. At the same moment, Holling's sister is crossing the street and about to be hit by the sliding bus. Holling takes a flying leap and knocks his sister out of the way. Though his own backside is injured by the rear bumper of the bus, Holling's heroic deed is captured on film and printed in the paper, completely erasing from the town's memory his more embarrassing photo. Holling's heroic deed to rescue his sister shows that malice truly is petty next to love since love can overcome malice, just as Mrs. Baker says.