The Wednesday Wars


Gary Schmidt

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The Wednesday Wars Themes

Themes and Colors
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The Vietnam War and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Reading and Learning Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Wednesday Wars, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Coming of Age

The Wednesday Wars follows thirteen-year-old Holling Hoodhood, a student at Camillo Junior High School, through the entirety of his seventh grade year. At thirteen, Holling is just beginning to think of himself as a person in the world, and most importantly, think about the world beyond him. For Holling, much of his coming of age happens as he begins to question his preconceptions about the world and about the people in it, finally coming…

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Though Holling Hoodhood suggests that his family has always been somewhat dysfunctional, this dysfunction comes to the forefront over the course of Holling's seventh grade year as a result of the dramas of small town life and business competition between Holling's dad and other rival architecture firms. By exploring some of this dysfunction and, specifically, the ways in which Holling's parents are absent from his life in meaningful ways, the novel questions the consequences of…

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The Vietnam War and Political Unrest

The Wednesday Wars is set against the backdrop of the political turmoil of 1967 and 1968: at this time, the United States was expanding its involvement in the Vietnam War, while the Cold War with Russia caused Americans to fear an atomic bomb attack. Students at Columbia University were protesting the war and rallying for the presidential run of Bobby Kennedy, while Martin Luther King, Jr. led his March on Washington—and both were assassinated early…

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Reading and Learning

The Wednesday Wars deals with texts of all sorts, from the classic literature of Shakespeare, to local sports legends and the evening news broadcast. As Holling develops over the course of the school year and engages with these different kinds of texts, he learns to think critically and apply what he learns, primarily from literature, to the rest of his life. By showing how Holling makes these connections and what he does with them, the…

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