Wonder Characters

The main characters in Wonder are August, Via, Jack, Julian, Summer, Miranda, Justin, and Mr. Tushman.

  • August Pullman is a ten-year-old boy who was born with severe birth defects.
  • Olivia “Via” Pullman is August’s sister, who has gotten used to August being the center of attention.
  • Jack is August’s friend at Beecher Prep.
  • Julian is the antagonist of the novel, who bullies August relentlessly.
  • Summer is August’s friend who sits with him at lunch.
  • Miranda is Via’s former best friend, who lies about having a deformed brother.
  • Justin is Via’s boyfriend, who plays the male lead in the school play.
  • Mr. Tushman is the principal of Beecher Prep. 

Characters

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Last Updated on May 16, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 180

August Pullman

In R. J. Palacio’s Wonder, August Pullman was born with mandibulofacial dysostosis, a severe birth defect that combined with other abnormalities to disfigure his face. When the novel opens, August is ten years old and has undergone a number of plastic surgeries that have reshaped his mouth and jaw, correcting his cleft palate. His loving and protective parents have been homeschooling him all this time but are debating sending him to a middle school called Beecher Prep. (Read extended character analysis of August Pullman.)

Olivia “Via” Pullman

Olivia is August’s fifteen-year-old older sister. She is a freshman at Faulkner High School, and she learns to navigate the world of high school while August attends school for the first time. Olivia earned the nickname “Via” at school, and her family continues to call her Via years later. Prior to August’s birth, Olivia was an only child, and family pictures indicate that she was always the center of attention. After August’s birth, however, her role in the family changed. (Read extended character analysis of Olivia Pullman.)

Isabel and Nate Pullman

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Last Updated on May 16, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 371

Isabel and Nate Pullman are the loving, protective parents of August and Olivia. Isabel worked as an illustrator before choosing to homeschool August full-time. It is primarily Isabel’s choice to send August to Beecher Prep. At first, she is cautiously optimistic that August will fit in at school. However, when she learns about Julian making mean-spirited comments about August during their first visit to the school, Isabel is deeply concerned with August’s well-being, so she worries constantly about how he is faring. Isabel assumes the worst, and when August faces hardship, she feels personally implicated. August initially harbors some resentment toward her, and she, in turn, feels guilty, terrified that she made a bad decision by sending August to middle school “like a lamb to the slaughter.” As August increasingly finds his place at Beecher Prep, she and August reconcile.

Nate balances out Isabel, both in temperament and in parenting approach. Whereas Isabel tends toward worry, Nate remains relatively calm, often offering jokes to lighten the mood. Although he initially resists August’s attendance of Beecher Prep, he encourages August to stick to his decision to attend, even as Isabel worries that it is a mistake. Nate tries to encourage August to step toward adulthood and toward a less shielded confrontation with the world. The most notable example of this encouragement surfaces when August discovers that a few years earlier, Nate discarded his beloved astronaut helmet. Nate did so in order to encourage August to show his face, for which August shouldn’t be ashamed.

As the novel progresses, Isabel and Nate’s intense preoccupations with August result in their neglecting Olivia. Although Olivia has become used to privacy and secrecy, it becomes increasingly clear that she craves the attention of her busy parents. These tensions come to a head late in the novel, when, in a confrontation with Olivia, Isabel and Nate learn that she will be performing in a school production of Our Town. Despite Olivia’s initial desire that they not go, driven by her fear of being seen with August, they attend and bring August along. This decision displays their lack of shame in August and their resolution to give Olivia the attention she deserves.

Jack

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Last Updated on May 16, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 267

Jack Will is one of the three students who guide August around Beecher Prep at the beginning of the novel. Of the three, he’s the quietest, and he refuses to participate in Julian’s rude questioning. At the end of the tour, he smiles at August, indicating that he wants to be friends. He sits next to August in their shared classes, and they walk together in the halls.

Months later, August hears that Jack is just being nice because Mr. Tushman asked him to be. On Halloween, Jack, unaware that August is within earshot, tells Julian that he’s sick of pretending to be friends with August. He doesn’t really mean this, however, and he becomes upset when August then shuts him out, refusing to talk. When he realizes that August overheard his conversation with Julian, Jack feels guilty. He has already grown disillusioned with Julian and his friends, who are all rich, conceited, and insufferable. Finally, frustrated by Julian’s cruelty towards August, he punches Julian in the face, ending their friendship. Mr. Tushman forces Jack to write a letter of apology to Julian and a letter of explanation about the fight, but Jack refuses to explain his reasons to Mr. Tushman.

Over winter break, Jack and August reconcile. Julian has turned against Jack and convinced their classmates that he is unstable. Jack starts to sit with August and Summer at lunch. His friendship with August only continues to grow as Julian becomes more determined to destroy it. Near the end of the novel, Jack saves August from a group of seventh-grade bullies.

Julian

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Last Updated on May 16, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 305

Julian Albans is the antagonist of Palacio’s Wonder. He’s one of the three students chosen to lead August around the Beecher Prep campus before the start of the school year. It is immediately clear that he’s a selfish and rude character. He pretends to be nice in front of adults, but behind their backs, he’s mean to August, telling him he looks like his face melted in a fire and comparing him to Darth Sidious, a character from the Star Wars franchise with facial burns.

On Halloween, Julian and his friends wait for August outside of their homeroom, clearly intending to bully him. Expecting August to be in costume as Boba Fett, none of them recognize him under his Bleeding Scream costume. Unaware that August can hear them, Jack and Julian discuss Mr. Tushman’s request that Jack be friends with August. Julian says the principal can’t force Jack to be friends with a “freak.” Jack secretly wants to be friends with August, however, and a few weeks later Jack punches Julian in the face for saying mean things about August. Julian’s mom then starts a campaign to kick August out of Beecher Prep, arguing that fifth-graders shouldn’t be expected to cater to a kid with “special needs.”

Julian convinces the class that Jack is emotionally unstable because of the stress of pretending to be friends with August. He arranges for the entire class to shun Jack. This effort proves unsuccessful, however, and his authority begins to wane. After August survives an attack by a big group of seventh graders, Julian’s friends abandon him in favor of August. His cruel behavior does not go unnoticed by the staff of Beecher Prep, and Mr. Tushman informs August that Julian will not be attending the school the next year.

Summer

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Last Updated on May 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 185

Summer is one of August’s best friends at Beecher Prep. On the first day of school, she sits with him at lunch, partly out of pity and partly out of curiosity. She admits that he isn’t the neatest eater, but it doesn’t take her long to overlook his physical abnormalities and realize that he’s a smart, funny, and nice person. Summer is well-liked at school, but other students question her attachment to August.

The most popular girl at Beecher, Savanna, invites Summer to a party. There, Savanna confronts Summer and suggests that she stop being friends with August, hinting that Summer could be more popular if she ditched August. Summer grows uncomfortable and fakes an illness to escape the party. She refuses to break off her friendship with August, and she accepts Jack into their little lunch group after Julian shuns him.

Summer’s home life is complicated: her father died several years ago, leaving her to be raised by a single mother. Summer has learned to cope with this fact and grows up to be a kind and generous person.

Miranda

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Last Updated on May 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 173

Miranda was one of Olivia’s best friends for many years. At camp the summer before freshman year of high school, Miranda lies about having a deformed brother just to get attention. For a while, she enjoys being one of the popular girls, but then she starts to feel guilty about it.

When the school year starts, Miranda can barely look at Olivia and soon breaks off their friendship, abandoning Olivia and joining a group of popular girls. She brings Ella with her, the two having undergone personality makeovers that summer. It doesn’t take long, however, for Miranda to miss Olivia. The Pullmans were like a family to her, and she thinks of August as her little brother.

At the first performance of Our Town, the school play, Miranda steps down as the lead female role to let Olivia perform. She figures that the future holds plenty more performances for her to star in, so she doesn’t mind. After the show, Miranda joins the Pullmans at dinner and reconciles with Olivia.

Mr. Tushman

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Last Updated on May 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 212

Mr. Tushman is the principal of Beecher Prep. August and his father enjoy making jokes about Mr. Tushman’s last name. Mr. Tushman is a nice man, however, and behind his desk, he keeps a framed portrait in which he look like a pumpkin.

Prior to August’s first day of school, Mr. Tushman asks three current students—Julian, Jack, and Charlotte—to show August around. August doesn’t know it at first, but Mr. Tushman asks Jack Will to be friends with August and look out for him. Mr. Tushman certainly means well, but this request has an adverse effect on August, who thought Jack independently decided to be his friend.

Aside from this, Mr. Tushman takes a fairly hands-off approach to August’s many troubles. He does the same with Jack’s issues; when Jack punches Julian for laughing at August, Mr. Tushman accepts Jack’s refusal to explain his reasons after he tells him he’d rather not get Julian in trouble. Nevertheless, Mr. Tushman and his staff figure out what’s going on between the boys. At the end of the year, Mr. Tushman informs August that Julian will not be returning to Beecher Prep next fall. He also awards August a special prize at the fifth-grade graduation.

Justin

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Last Updated on May 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 134

Justin is Olivia’s boyfriend. Like Olivia, Justin is interested in the theater and tries out for the school play, Our Town. Justin wins the lead male role in the play, opposite Miranda. He’s admittedly disappointed that Olivia, who tried out for the female lead, doesn’t get the part, but later, he enjoys acting with Via when Miranda temporarily steps down from the lead female role.

Offstage, Justin carries a fiddle case with him at all times. At one point, he pretends that the case holds a machine gun to scare some bullies who made fun of Jack. Justin is protective of August and is amazed by the Pullman family, which seems so loving and compassionate compared to his own. His parents are divorced and don’t spend much time with him.

Charlotte

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Last Updated on May 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 116

Mr. Tushman asks Charlotte to guide August around Beecher Prep with Jack and Julian before school starts. During the tour, she admonishes Julian for rudely asking about August’s face.

During the school year, Charlotte shows little interest in August. Later in the year, however, she reveals her allegiances. After Julian proposes that the fifth-grade students all shun Jack in an attempt to end Jack’s friendship with August, Charlotte arranges a clandestine meeting with Jack, where she tells him all about Julian’s plan. She also assures him that the girls are neutral. Eventually, public opinion shifts in favor of August and Jack, and Charlotte becomes, if not a close friend, an ally to August.

Henry, Miles, and Amos

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Last Updated on May 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 88

For most of the novel, Henry, Miles, and Amos are Julian’s best friends. During the class wilderness retreat, the three boys come to August’s aid. When a group of cruel seventh graders attacks August, stealing his hearing aids, Henry helps August to his feet and tells him to run into a cornfield. Together, the fifth graders escape the bullies. Thanks to this shared experience, the boys all become friends. Amos becomes the most popular boy in school, and Henry and Miles join him in abandoning Julian.

Mr. Browne

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Last Updated on May 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 42

Mr. Browne is August’s English teacher. Every month, he assigns the class a “precept”—or moral truth—on which they right a short essay. One of his precepts is “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.”

Grans

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Last Updated on May 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 74

Grans was Isabel’s mother and August and Olivia’s grandmother. Olivia briefly lived with Grans while August was recovering from one of his many surgeries. Grans died of a heart attack in October, and Via always gets sad around Halloween because she is reminded of Grans’s passing. Grans once revealed to Olivia that Olivia was her favorite person—a significant fact for Olivia, who felt that her entire family revolved around August.

Savanna

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Last Updated on May 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 58

Savanna is the most popular girl at Beecher Prep. She invites Summer to a Halloween party at her house, only to confront her, asking that she abandon August. Summer fakes an illness to escape Savanna and her boyfriend, Henry, a popular boy who teams up with Savanna to convince Summer of August’s status as a social pariah.

Ella

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Last Updated on May 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 35

Ella is one of Olivia’s best childhood friends, along with Miranda. Ella undergoes the same transformation as Miranda the summer before starting high school, and she abandons Olivia a week into the school year.

Christopher

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Last Updated on May 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 10

Christopher is August’s best childhood friend, who moves away.

Eleanor

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Last Updated on May 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 15

Eleanor is Olivias friend. Olivia meets Eleanor after her friendships with Miranda and Ella deteriorate.

Daisy

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Last Updated on May 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 25

A comforting companion to Olivia and August, Daisy is the Pullmans’ dog. She dies of an incurable mass in her stomach after a long illness.

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