The Wednesday Wars

by

Gary Schmidt

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Wednesday Wars can help.

Meryl Lee Kowalski Character Analysis

Meryl Lee is one of Holling's classmates. According to Holling, she's in love with him and has been since the third grade. In reality, she makes mean jokes about hurting Holling and joins Danny Hupfer in making death threats if Holling doesn't bring the class cream puffs. She does, however, act as a voice of reason when Holling is paranoid that Mrs. Baker is out to get him. Though Holling is mostly unaware, Meryl Lee's father owns Kowalski and Associates, an architecture firm that is Hoodhood and Associates’ direct competitor. This rivalry explains much of Meryl Lee’s behavior that Holling finds confusing: Kowalski and Associates is, for much of the novel, not doing well because they keep losing business to Hoodhood and Associates. This means that there's a very real chance that Meryl Lee's family will suffer financial hardship or have to move. Despite this, Meryl Lee accepts Holling's invitation for dinner and a night at the theater for Valentine's Day. She loves Shakespeare and is thrilled to see Romeo and Juliet with him, and they spend a long time talking over Cokes at Woolworth's afterwards. The next week, she's extremely upset when she realizes that her father used Holling's drawing of his own dad's plan for the remodeled junior high school to revise his proposal. She finds herself caught between familial loyalty and her affection for Holling, who shuns her and calls her a traitor. After he finally forgives her, he and Meryl Lee start spending more time together and are partners on many of their school projects.
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The Wednesday Wars PDF

Meryl Lee Kowalski Character Timeline in The Wednesday Wars

The timeline below shows where the character Meryl Lee Kowalski appears in The Wednesday Wars. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
September
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...Mrs. Baker booby-trapped his desk. He inspects it carefully and sees nothing amiss, but asks Meryl Lee Kowalski, who is in love with him, to open the desk in case there's something... (full context)
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...Doug's brother vomits on her, and Danny congratulates Holling. Doug Swieteck does too, as does Meryl Lee . Holling is confused and admits that he didn't mean to take out Doug Swieteck's... (full context)
October
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...fact when Mr. Petrelli hands out Study Question Data Sheets to fill out in pairs. Meryl Lee approaches Holling to be partners and assures him that Mrs. Baker doesn't look like an... (full context)
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...Danny threatens to kill Holling if he gets a cream puff, and ten minutes later, Meryl Lee promises to "do Number 408" to Holling if he gets a cream puff. Holling thinks... (full context)
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...must perform one more chore—possibly for one more cream puff. When Mrs. Baker walks away, Meryl Lee , Danny, and Mai Thi descend on Holling to find out if he truly got... (full context)
November
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
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...Miss Violet asks Holling to sing a soprano part. Holling curses at both Danny and Meryl Lee as he moves forward, and Meryl Lee takes great offense. She grabs Holling's arm and... (full context)
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...screams Shakespearean curses, and the rats race into the radiators and back into the walls. Meryl Lee , Mai Thi, and Danny tell Holling he has ten days to get more cream... (full context)
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The next day, when Holling complains to Meryl Lee that his dad is being a cheapskate, especially since he just got the Baker Sporting... (full context)
December
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After lunch, Meryl Lee , Mai Thi, and Danny corner Holling to ask about the part in The Tempest.... (full context)
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...call arrives and Holling walks onstage. He looks out at the audience and notices Danny, Meryl Lee , and Mai Thi in the front row—crying. Holling watches a look come over Danny's... (full context)
February
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...it "tragic and beautiful and lovely," and suggests that Holling's reading is naïve and simplistic. Meryl Lee is reading the play on her own, and she agrees with Mrs. Baker's assessment when... (full context)
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The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...to his name. His dad asks Holling who he's taking, and when he ascertains that Meryl Lee is Meryl Lee Kowalski of Kowalski and Associates, he tells Holling to hurry—Kowalski and Associates... (full context)
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As they sit and wait for Mr. Kowalski to pick Meryl Lee up, Meryl Lee imitates her dad's obsessiveness about making the model for the junior high... (full context)
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...anger, and asks what he did. Holling realizes, with a pit in his stomach, that Meryl Lee just baited him at Woolworth's. He begins to bawl and runs out of the conference... (full context)
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Holling discovers what Shakespeare wanted to express about the human condition from Meryl Lee , and he proposes in his essay that you must be careful whom you trust.... (full context)
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Holling and Meryl Lee partner up for school projects over the next week. They're at the board together when... (full context)
March
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...feels like he's drowning but remembers his form. He feels much better when he sees Meryl Lee waving a dried rose at him. Holling passes students on his fourth lap, and as... (full context)
April
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At lunch recess the next day, Meryl Lee announces that she might be moving. Holling doesn't know what to say, so he says... (full context)
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The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
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...of April to coach Holling on his running. Because Holling is running all the time, Meryl Lee is annoyed that he's not around to work on their "California Gold Rush and You"... (full context)
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The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
One afternoon, while Holling and Meryl Lee work on their project at her house, Mr. Kowalski comes home and says that he... (full context)
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...of the Home Town Chronicle. When spring break rolls around, Holling, Danny, Mai Thi, and Meryl Lee hang out every afternoon at Woolworth's. Heather hangs out with a guy named Chit, who... (full context)
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...and boards the bus. When Danny's race starts, Holling cheers with the Hupfer family and Meryl Lee . Danny pulls to the front of the large pack, and he's in the lead... (full context)
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...Camillo. As Holling comes around for his first lap, he sees Danny up and cheering, Meryl Lee with a rose, and Mrs. Baker standing next to her. He continues to trail the... (full context)
May
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...Hamlet. Holling finds Hamlet boring and slow, so he starts skipping over the boring monologues. Meryl Lee finds this a questionable strategy, but Holling is so convinced of his genius he even... (full context)
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...and insists that his family will shun him if he messes up even one word. Meryl Lee , Mai Thi, and Holling decide to help Danny by spending every lunch recess listening... (full context)
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...but only in parking lots. Holling comes back into the house and sits down. Suddenly, Meryl Lee calls: her dad is going to the Yankee Stadium and wanted to know if Holling... (full context)
June
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...and then latrines (far away from the camp), while Mrs. Sidman organizes a wood-gathering expedition. Meryl Lee cooks hot dogs for lunch as Mrs. Baker asks for the chili. Holling heads for... (full context)
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The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
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Meryl Lee helps with the dishes. At the river, she and Holling splash each other, washing most... (full context)
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...to pass out with exhaustion, and Danny declares he's staying up all night. Mai Thi, Meryl Lee , and Holling help stoke the fire and sit with Mrs. Baker well past midnight.... (full context)
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...huddle in groups, taking turns letting one person be safe in the middle. Holling lets Meryl Lee take his turn, and she smiles brightly at him. (full context)
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Holling and Meryl Lee again wash the pots, and they're still at the river when Mrs. Bigio and Mai... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...goes back inside the temple. Danny is smiling, as is everyone else. He dances with Meryl Lee , who says that something seems different about Holling. Later, he goes to get Meryl... (full context)
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...starts, and Holling says "l'chayim!" to Mrs. Baker as he runs off to dance with Meryl Lee . She smiles a real smile at him and praises him. (full context)