Diary of a Wimpy Kid

by

Jeff Kinney

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: November Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Thursday. When the school bus passes by his grandmother’s house the next day, Greg sees that the teenagers have covered it in toilet paper. He feels bad, although he assumes that his grandmother doesn’t have much to do besides clean it up anyway, since she’s retired.
Greg’s lack of concern about his grandmother’s house suggests his continuing immaturity and selfishness, since he’s more focused on what’s on his mind than the experiences of others.
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Wednesday and Thursday. In anticipation of a wrestling unit in physical education, Greg begins practicing some moves at home with Rowley. He doesn’t want to get too good, however, remembering the case of a star athlete whose name, P. Mudd, became the subject of weeks of mockery. The wrestling unit is less glamorous than Greg anticipated, since it involves sweaty mats and the wearing of humiliating “singlets,” or swimsuit-like garments. The girls are separated from the boys and placed in a gymnastics class. Worse, the only person lightweight enough to wrestle Greg is Fregley, who has been paying attention in class and pins Greg easily.
Greg’s anxiety about wrestling is linked to a fear of bullying. Kids can be bullied for not being physically strong enough, like him—or they can even be bullied for being too good at sports, like P. Mudd.  The wrestling unit is a particular cause of anxiety for Greg too because it requires him to test his physical strength against other boys. The fact that no girls are in this class suggests its associations with strength and performances of masculinity.
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Tuesday. Wrestling has taken over the school, even involving matches during lunch breaks. Greg is annoyed at having to wrestle Fregley every day, but he has no escape since they are the only two people in their weight class. Greg tries to bulk up by stuffing t-shirts under his clothes, but when that doesn’t work, he decides to try to actually build muscle (thinking that such a change in his physique will also serve him well in football season in the spring). He asks his parents for a weight set, but Greg’s mom stipulates that he has to prove he can stick to an exercise regimen by doing sit-ups and jumping jacks every day for two weeks.
Greg is dismayed to find that the wrestling unit has influenced the social world of the middle school outside of Physical Education class. He is embarrassed at having to wrestle the “weird” and unpopular kid Fregley because they are the only two people in the same weight class, suggesting that he links athletic performance and strength to social status. These social pressures give Greg a newfound enthusiasm for working out to try to change his physique.
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Saturday. Greg makes an improvised bench press and barbells from old milk cartons and boxes. He invites Rowley over for a workout session. To test Rowley’s dedication to weightlifting, Greg puts on a fake mustache and glasses. Sure enough, Rowley loses his concentration—causing Greg to conclude that he just isn’t as serious about weightlifting.
Greg’s laughable attempt at weightlifting suggests that his desire to work out is not related to enthusiasm for the activity. Rather, he hopes to improve his athletic performance and raise his social status by becoming more physically intimidating.
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Related Quotes
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Wednesday. Greg is excited for a quiz in geography on US state capitals, since he sits next to a map of the US. Unfortunately, a girl in the class, Patty Farrell, points this out to the teacher, who covers the map. Greg flunks the quiz and expresses the desire to “pay her back” for that one.
Greg’s anger at Patty for stopping him from cheating reveals his immaturity. Rather than applying himself to academic tasks in school, he would rather find ways to get around doing the work.
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Thursday and Friday. Greg’s mom makes Greg sign up for the school play, since she thinks trying different activities will make him more “well-rounded.” Greg protests that this will interrupt his weightlifting schedule and looks to his dad for support, but he is overruled. Greg arrives to try out for “The Wizard of Oz,” where he auditions with a group of boys “whose moms made them come.” The teacher, Mrs. Norton, remarks on his “soprano” voice, which makes the girls giggle and embarrasses him. Greg sees Patty trying out for the role of Dorothy and hopes he’ll be cast as the bad witch so he can do mean things to her.
Greg seems worried that singing and acting aren’t activities traditionally associated with boys, and that being in the play will make him vulnerable to bullying. This fear is realized by Mrs. Norton saying he has a high “soprano” voice, which makes the girls laugh. At the same time, however, his plan to bully Patty suggests that he participates in the same behaviors that others use to make fun of him.
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Related Quotes
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Greg is disappointed when Mrs. Norton says that everyone who auditioned will receive a part. He decides that he would like to be a tree—since he won’t have to sing or dance, and he can throw apples at Patty as Dorothy. He finds that many of the other boys have also signed up to be trees. Ultimately, however, he is disappointed, since the tree costume has no arms and he can’t throw apples at all. Although Greg has to go to a two-hour practice every day, he only has a single line—“ouch.” He tries to think of a way to get Mrs. Norton to kick him out of the play, but thinks it’s hard to mess up a single line.
Greg is too embarrassed to perform because he is afraid that people will make fun of him—so he is pleased that Mrs. Norton casts him in the play as a non-speaking tree. This fear is seemingly shared by other boys, who also ask to be cast as trees. And yet he still seems to harbor some desire to participate in the play, since he is annoyed at only having one line. This suggests that he might be repressing his natural desires to perform because of a fear of social consequences.
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