Wonder

Wonder

by

R. J. Palacio

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

The Plague Symbol Analysis

The Plague Symbol Icon

"The Plague" is a mean game that August’s classmates start to play at the beginning of the school year. The rules of the game state that if any kid touches August, they have 30 seconds to wash their hands or they're infected with the Plague. August thinks of it much like the “Cheese Touch” in the book Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Especially in this sense, the Plague comes to represent the truly horrible elements of the Beecher Prep social structure. The structure thrives exactly because individuals can really only become popular by participating in unkind games and other exclusionary practices, reinforcing the novel's assertion that popularity is dependent primarily on putting others down. When the students eventually abandon the Plague, it suggests that the social structure is evolving for the better as students grow up and make conscious choices to behave more kindly.

The Plague Quotes in Wonder

The Wonder quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Plague. 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:
The Difficulty of Kindness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Knopf edition of Wonder published in 2012.
Summer: The Plague Quotes

How I found out about this is that Maya Markowitz told me that the reason she won't play Four Square with us at recess is that she doesn't want to catch the Plague. I was like, "What's the Plague?" And she told me. I told Maya I thought it was really dumb and she agreed, but she still wouldn't touch a ball that August just touched, not if she could help it.

Related Characters: Summer (speaker), August Pullman, Julian Albans, Maya
Related Symbols: The Plague
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
Jack: Ex-Friends Quotes

And the truth is, though nobody's that obvious about it: nobody wants to hang out with him. Everyone's way too hung up on being in the popular group, and he's just as far from the popular group as you can get. But now I can hang out with anyone I want. If I wanted to be in the popular group, I could totally be in the popular group.

Related Characters: Jack Will (speaker), August Pullman, Julian Albans
Related Symbols: The Plague
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:
Jack: The War Quotes

Before she went out, she looked left and right outside the door to make sure no one saw her leaving. I guess even though she was neutral, she didn't want to be seen with me.

Related Characters: Jack Will (speaker), August Pullman, Julian Albans, Charlotte
Related Symbols: The Plague
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Wonder LitChart as a printable PDF.
Wonder PDF

The Plague Symbol Timeline in Wonder

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Plague appears in Wonder. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Summer: The Plague
Status and Bullying Theme Icon
While playing foursquare one day, Summer learns about the Plague . Supposedly, anyone who touches August has thirty seconds to wash their hands before they... (full context)
Jack: Ex-Friends
The Difficulty of Kindness Theme Icon
Independence and Growing Up Theme Icon
Status and Bullying Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...people keep asking Jack what's going on. Jack isn't sure if people are still playing the Plague and thinks that it's August's loss if he doesn't want to be friends, since August... (full context)
Jack: Back From Winter Break
The Difficulty of Kindness Theme Icon
Status and Bullying Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...Amos and Tristan are short with him, and Jack realizes he has some form of the Plague . The girls all talk to Jack, and the two Maxes say hi, which makes... (full context)
Jack: Sides
The Difficulty of Kindness Theme Icon
Status and Bullying Theme Icon
...that he can't even ask Charlotte out now that people are acting like he has the Plague . When Jack looks ashamed for bringing up the Plague, August says he already knew... (full context)
August: The Auggie Doll
The Difficulty of Kindness Theme Icon
Status and Bullying Theme Icon
...they even start making fun of him. By the end of March, everyone stops playing the Plague and lots of people will even accept pencils from August. One day, August sees Maya... (full context)