The Wednesday Wars

by Gary Schmidt

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Why does Holling Hoodhood enjoy The Tempest in Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars?

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In Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars, one reason why Holling loves The Tempest so much, which he reads during the month of November, is because of the elements of the plot. As Holling explains, The Tempest contains "a storm, attempted murders, witches, wizards, invisible spirits," drunkenness, and even a monster by the name of Caliban. Because of these plot elements, Holling thinks the play is even better than his favorite book, Treasure Island. But, what Holling likes best about the play is the "list of colorful curses" said by Caliban.

Holling likes those curses so much that he sets about memorizing them and even tells his sister, "A southwest blow on ye and blister you all o'er." Throughout the rest of the book, any time something goes terribly wrong for Holling or he experiences a severe disappointment, Holling recites his very favorite curse from the play: "Toads, beetles, bats, light on you!"

However, Holling takes away much more from the play than what he likes about it at surface level. For example, in a discussion about Caliban's unhappy ending in the play, one thing Mrs. Baker explains is Shakespeare's message that defeat is necessary for growth. Holling at first disagrees with this statement, saying, "Defeat doesn't help you grow. ... It's just defeat." But, as the book progresses, Holling comes to understand his belief about defeat is incorrect. Holling is defeated many times throughout the book such as the time when Mr. Kowalski steals Hoodhood and Associate's design for the new junior high school after he innocently shows off his father's design to Meryl Lee Kowalski while on their Valentine's Day date. Yet, Holling also overcomes these defeats by facing them bravely and maintaining his integrity.

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