Diary of a Wimpy Kid

by

Jeff Kinney

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Themes and Colors
Social Status and Friendship Theme Icon
Ideals of Masculinity  Theme Icon
Bullying Theme Icon
Independence and Growing Up Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Bullying Theme Icon

In Greg’s middle school, deviation from social norms is often punished with bullying. One of Greg’s central aims is to avoid any behavior that could make him a target for school bullies—like wearing the wrong clothes, being bad at sports, or having an embarrassing nickname. Ultimately, however, he chooses to protect his “uncool” best friend Rowley from school bullies when he takes responsibility for touching “the Cheese,” a moldy bit of cheese left out on the school basketball court, exposing himself to the risk of social censure to protect his friend.

Greg witnesses almost daily instances of bullying at his middle school and even perpetuates it himself. There is intense peer pressure to behave in certain ways to be perceived as cool, which even causes Greg to become the bully instead of the bullied. Greg runs a student government campaign for treasurer against Marty Porter, hoping that becoming treasurer will give him more power in the school. His campaign posters consist entirely of personal insults of Marty, such as reminding people of his lice problem in elementary school. The vice principal perceives this behavior as bullying and makes him take down the posters. Greg develops a vendetta against another student, Patty Farrell, after she stops him from cheating on a geography test. In the school production of The Wizard of Oz, Patty plays Dorothy, and Greg and his friends pelt her with apples. As a result, her glasses break and the director has to stop the play, ruining Patty’s dream of performing on stage.

Greg is frequently bullied by older and physically intimidating teenagers who use their superior strength to exert power over others. Even Greg’s older brother, Rodrick, sometimes engages in bullying behavior. For example, in the summer, he wakes Greg up at 3:00 A.M. and tricks him into thinking that it’s the first day of school. This causes Greg to panic, get dressed, and make himself breakfast, getting him in trouble with their dad. Similarly, teenagers in a passing pickup truck spray Greg and Rowley with water while they are trick-or-treating. The teenagers then chase Greg and Rowley to Greg’s grandmother’s house. Although Greg and Rowley escape, the teenagers cover the house in toilet paper—in an act of intimidation that extends to Greg’s family.

One bullying tactic adopted by the entire school centers on “the Cheese,” a moldy piece of cheese left on the school basketball court. Legend holds that any person who touches it gets the “Cheese Touch,” which they can then pass on to other students by touching them. The result is that students with the Cheese Touch are bullied and socially ostracized. One student, Abe Hall, was thought to have the Cheese Touch, meaning that “no one would go near him.” This bullying had such a negative impact on Abe that he moved to California at the end of the school year.

The acts of bullying that Greg witnesses, experiences, and perpetrates are often framed as jokes, but their effect is often to intimidate. The fact that bullying is frequently carried out by older students models such behavior to their younger peers, perpetuating a cycle of bullying that continues over the years. Greg’s protection of Rowley, however, provides one example of a moment when Greg chooses not to continue the cycle. Greg and Rowley are bullied by the same teenagers from Halloween night, who force Rowley to eat the Cheese. Greg knows that this would lead to permanent social outcast status for Rowley if people knew about it, but Greg chooses to keep the secret and take responsibility himself by claiming that he was the one who touched the Cheese. In this sense, he refuses to engage in the bullying behavior that is so common at his middle school and instead chooses other values: friendship over social status, kindness over intimidation, and self-sacrifice over self-protection.

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Bullying ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Bullying appears in each chapter of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Bullying Quotes in Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Below you will find the important quotes in Diary of a Wimpy Kid related to the theme of Bullying.
November Quotes

I figure if I bulk up now, it could actually come in handy down the road. The football unit is coming in the spring, and they split the teams up into shirts and skins. And I ALWAYS get put on skins. I think they do that to make all the out-of-shape kids feel ashamed of themselves.

Related Characters: Greg Heffley (speaker)
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

I did my singing tryouts with a bunch of other boys whose moms made them come, too. I tried to sing as quietly as possible, but of course I got singled out, anyway. I have no idea what a “soprano” is, but from the way some of the girls were giggling, I knew it wasn’t a good thing.

Related Characters: Greg Heffley (speaker), Greg’s Mom
Page Number: 97-98
Explanation and Analysis:
December Quotes

Well, if one good thing came out of the play, it's that I don't have to worry about the “Bubby” nickname anymore. I saw Archie Kelly getting hassled in the hallway after fifth period today, so it looks like I can finally start to breathe a little easier.

Related Characters: Greg Heffley (speaker), Manny Heffley , Archie Kelly
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:
January Quotes

In school today they had a general assembly and showed the movie “It’s Great to Be Me,” which they show us every year. The movie is all about how you should be happy with who you are and not change anything about yourself. To be honest with you, I think that’s a really dumb message to be telling kids, especially the ones at my school.

Related Characters: Greg Heffley (speaker)
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:
May Quotes

If the truth ever came out about how the Cheese disappeared, Rowley would be finished. He’d have to move out of the state, and maybe even the country. That’s when I decided to speak up. I told everyone that I knew what happened to the Cheese. I said I was sick of it being on the court, and I just decided to get rid of it once and for all…if I threw away the Cheese, guess what that meant? It meant that I have the Cheese Touch.

Related Characters: Greg Heffley (speaker), Rowley Jefferson
Related Symbols: The Cheese Touch
Page Number: 214-215
Explanation and Analysis:
June Quotes

Well, if Rowley appreciated what I did for him last week, he hasn’t said it. But we’ve started hanging out after school again, so I guess that means me and him are back to normal. I can honestly say that so far, having the Cheese Touch hasn’t been all that bad.

Related Characters: Greg Heffley (speaker), Rowley Jefferson
Related Symbols: The Cheese Touch
Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis: