What is the problem to The Wednesday Wars?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a number of problems in The Wednesday Wars. Arguably the central problem is that the main character, Holling Hoodhood, has not yet reached maturity. As such, he is completely self-absorbed and passive, unable to see things from any point of view but his own, and incapable of effecting any control over his life. Holling's self-absorption can be seen in the way he is completely oblivious to the stress that his teacher, Mrs. Baker, is undergoing in her own life, with her husband fighting in Vietnam. When Holling sees that Mrs. Baker is preoccupied or unhappy, he attributes her mood to some secret plotting she is doing to make his own life miserable. Holling's passivity is manifest in his relationships with his family members at home. Holling's father in particular is completely insensitive and domineering, and Holling cannot even imagine standing up to him, even when it is clear that his father is out of line. As Holling grows in maturity over the course of his seventh grade year, he develops a sense of compassion for others, and an ability to perceive their needs. He also finds the courage to stand up for himself to his father, asserting himself as an individual of integrity and understanding of the things that are important in life.

Other problems that are addressed in the course of the narrative include the Vietnam War, hatred directed by members of the general populace towards Vietnamese refugees as exemplified by the character of Mai Thi, teasing and bullying in junior high, and problematic family dynamics as illustrated in the Hoodhood household.

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The Wednesday Wars

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