Wonder

Wonder

by

R. J. Palacio

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Wonder: August: The Performance Space Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Charlotte chatters about playing Oliver in the production of Oliver last year as she leads August, Jack, and Julian into the auditorium. As Charlotte talks, August notices Julian slyly staring at him. He also notices Jack standing in the back, looking bored. When Charlotte explains that the school puts on a play every year, Julian sarcastically says that August certainly won't want to be in the school play. He and Charlotte discuss the other electives, and August says he's going to take the science elective. Julian looks August in the eye, says that it's "supposably" the hardest elective of all, and asks why August thinks he's smart enough to take it when he's never been to school before.
Julian's specific bullying tactic here suggests that he's willing to defend his social status by ostracizing August and refusing to treat him like a real person. Julian also attempts to defend his own academic prowess by intimidating August into not pushing himself to his full potential. Julian’s behavior begins to show that bullying is multifaceted and can be overt and underhanded at the same time.
Themes
Status and Bullying Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Charlotte insists that August was just homeschooled, and Julian doubts that someone who isn't a real teacher like August's mom can effectively teach science. Jack suggests they go to the library, but Julian asks August why his hair is so long. August doesn't answer, so Julian asks what "the deal" is with August's face and if he got burned in a fire. Charlotte exclaims to Julian that he's being rude, and reminds him that Mr. Tushman explained that August was born that way. Jack yells for Julian to shut up and calls for August to come with him to the library.
It’s admirable that Jack and Charlotte stand up for August here, but it's also telling that they're not surrounded by any of their other classmates or friends right now. This means that standing up for August is a much lower stakes confrontation for them. Notice too that Charlotte speaks well of the adults in her life (Mr. Tushman, August's mom). This implies that Charlotte respects and values adults, unlike Julian.
Themes
The Difficulty of Kindness Theme Icon
Status and Bullying Theme Icon
Parenting and Guidance Theme Icon
As August passes Jack, Jack looks August right in the eye. August looks back at him and smiles, though he feels almost ready to cry. He explains to the reader that people who don't know him often can't tell that he's smiling, but Jack seems to understand that August smiled. He whispers to August that Julian is a jerk, but insists that August also needs to talk. Charlotte and Julian catch up, and August tells Julian that earlier, he should've used the word "supposedly" instead of "supposably." Charlotte backs August up, and the group heads off down the stairs. Julian cuts August off and apologizes, but August can tell he did it on purpose and isn't sorry.
By correcting Julian's mispronunciation, August begins to quietly stand up for himself by threatening Julian's academic prowess and know-it-all attitude. The very underhanded ways in which August and Julian begin to fight suggests that this conflict is far from over and will likely proceed quietly and under the radar. In turn, this opens up the possibility that the adults in charge may not be fully aware of what's going on once school starts.
Themes
The Difficulty of Kindness Theme Icon
Independence and Growing Up Theme Icon
Status and Bullying Theme Icon
Parenting and Guidance Theme Icon