The Wednesday Wars

by

Gary Schmidt

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Mrs. Bigio Character Analysis

Mrs. Bigio is the school cook at Camillo Junior High School. Though her lunches leave a lot to be desired, she's a skilled pastry chef and all the students covet her cupcakes. Her husband, a soldier in Vietnam, dies in November. Holling witnesses Mrs. Bigio's grief when she seeks out Mrs. Baker on a Wednesday afternoon, and he declares he'll never forget the sounds of her sadness. Mrs. Bigio struggles with her grief for months. Her cooking suffers, and she becomes sharp and cruel to all the students but especially Mai Thi, whom Mrs. Bigio treats like a scapegoat. Holling, however, notices that when Mrs. Bigio is cruel to Mai Thi, both Mai Thi and Mrs. Bigio cry. Finally, after she notices other students beginning to bully Mai Thi, Mrs. Bigio apologizes and begins to cook Vietnamese treats and food, and even tries her best to pronounce the Vietnamese words properly. When she joins Mrs. Baker's class on their final camping trip, she invites Mai Thi to come live with her.

Mrs. Bigio Quotes in The Wednesday Wars

The The Wednesday Wars quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Bigio or refer to Mrs. Bigio. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Coming of Age Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Houghton Mifflin edition of The Wednesday Wars published in 2007.
November Quotes

Everyone—except for Caliban—is happy, and everyone is forgiven, and everyone is fine, and they all sail away on calm seas. Happy endings.

That's how it is in Shakespeare.

But Shakespeare was wrong.

Sometimes there isn't a Prospero to make everything fine again.

And sometimes the quality of mercy is strained.

Related Characters: Holling Hoodhood (speaker), Mrs. Baker, Mrs. Bigio, Mai Thi
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:
December Quotes

"Pick it up and be glad you're getting it. You shouldn't even be here, sitting like a queen in a refugee home while American boys are sitting in swamps on Christmas Day. They're the ones who should be here. Not you."

Mai Thi took her Something. She looked down, and kept going.

She probably didn't see that Mrs. Bigio was pulling her hairnet down lower over her face, because she was almost crying.

Related Characters: Holling Hoodhood (speaker), Mrs. Bigio, Mai Thi
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Wednesday Wars LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Wednesday Wars PDF

Mrs. Bigio Character Timeline in The Wednesday Wars

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Bigio appears in The Wednesday Wars. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
October
Family Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Holling enters the kitchen on the first floor, prepared for the usual "fumes" of Mrs. Bigio 's questionable food, but the kitchen smells like buttery pastries. He looks in awe at... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...realized that Mrs. Baker would never play a practical joke, and they settled for demoting Mrs. Bigio from her position as the Official Cook of the Wives of Vietnam Soldiers. In tears,... (full context)
November
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Holling thanks Mrs. Baker for the cream puffs, and she smiles at him. Suddenly, Mrs. Bigio enters the classroom. She leans on the doorway, trembling. Mrs. Baker asks if they found... (full context)
December
Family Theme Icon
...Holling lurks backstage and scans the audience for faces he knows. He finds Mrs. Baker, Mrs. Bigio , and Danny Hupfer's parents. This is shocking: Holling reasons that the Hupfers must not... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...be special. Lunch, however, is even worse than usual, but Holling doesn't complain. He remembers Mrs. Bigio 's grief and says nothing when she snaps at students who stop to inspect their... (full context)
January
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...other teachers drill their students all morning in preparation for the tests until lunchtime, when Mrs. Bigio enters the room with a tray filled with cups of hot chocolate. Mrs. Bigio walks... (full context)
February
Family Theme Icon
On Valentine's Day, Mr. Guareschi announces that Mrs. Bigio baked Valentine's Day cupcakes, and class representatives can pick them up at 1 P.M. Mrs.... (full context)
March
Family Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...as they believe Vietnamese people eat rats. This continues until one day at lunch, when Mrs. Bigio hands Mai Thi her lunch. A penitentiary eighth grader asks loudly if Mrs. Bigio has... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Reading and Learning Theme Icon
...him to Washington, D.C. because they're so proud. The day he returns, Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Bigio come into Mrs. Baker's class with nuoc mau, a Vietnamese dessert of fried bananas. When... (full context)
June
Family Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Mrs. Bigio arrives as the students are busy fighting off the mosquitos. Fortunately, she has a can... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Reading and Learning Theme Icon
Holling and Meryl Lee again wash the pots, and they're still at the river when Mrs. Bigio and Mai Thi arrive to wash the knives. Mrs. Bigio tells Mai Thi that she's... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Holling doesn't sleep that night. He watches the stars and thinks about Mai Thi, Mrs. Bigio , Lieutenant Baker, Danny, and how in five years, he'll have to register for the... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Reading and Learning Theme Icon
...the full synagogue at his bar mitzvah. Holling's dad even came, as did Mrs. Baker, Mrs. Bigio , and Mrs. Sidman. Danny pulls his prayer shawl around his shoulders. He looks terrified... (full context)