What is the main idea of "October" in the book The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Each of the chapters in The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt is a minth in Hollis Hoodhood's seventh-grade year. "October" is a year-changing month for Hollis and the turning point in his relationship with his teacher, Mrs. Baker. Hollis is convinced, from the first day of class, that Mrs. Baker hates him; so, when he is the only member of his class who has to stay in school on Wednesday afternoons, it feels like torture to him.

While his classmates are all either at Hebrew school or catechism class, Hollis spends his afternoons cleaning the chalkboard erasers--until October. This chapter begins with Mrs. Baker saying,

"There's no point in teaching you something new."

However, after Hollis has a chalk dust and cream puff incident or two, she changes her mind. Now she says,

"Mr. Hoodhood...we have been wasting our opportunities.... On Wednesday afternoons from now on, we will be reading Shakespeare together."

Obviously Hollis is a little surprised by this announcement, but their Shakespeare-reading times begin with The Merchant of Venice. By the end of the chapter, Holling is enjoying Shakespeare and Mrs. Baker is enjoying talking about Shakespeare with Hollis. Again, the significance of this is that the rather rocky relationship between Hollis and Mrs. Baker changes for the better in October.