R. J. Palacio

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Themes and Colors
The Difficulty of Kindness Theme Icon
Independence and Growing Up Theme Icon
Status and Bullying Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Parenting and Guidance Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Wonder, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

The Difficulty of Kindness

Wonder tells the story of ten-year-old August Pullman's first year going to school. Because he was born with a rare craniofacial condition that necessitated multiple major surgeries, his parents felt it was best to homeschool him for much of his childhood—both to help him keep up with his studies, and to protect him from the bullying and stares he attracts that would likely intensify in a school setting. As August embarks on his journey…

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Independence and Growing Up

At ten years old, August is on the brink of adolescence. Because he's so young and because he has an usually close relationship with his parents due to his medical condition, he begins the novel relying heavily on his parents for support and guidance. As August matures over the course of the novel and spends more time in the company of other kids his own age, however, he gradually begins to desire more independence. Though…

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Status and Bullying

For August and the other kids at Beecher Prep, status and popularity are of the utmost importance. Wonder is peppered with kids' observations about their social structure, how status and hierarchy function in their world at school, and what the consequences of being popular or unpopular are on the student body. In particular, Wonder suggests that as intoxicating as popularity might be for August and his classmates, the social structure that allows some students to…

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Wonder explores adolescence as a unique period of time in which teens and tweens have the ability to experiment with their identities with wild abandon. By looking at the ways the adolescent characters attempt to define themselves, either by changing their appearance or by liking certain things, as well as examining the degree to which those characters are defined by others (as when some students are spoken of in terms of one defining characteristic, regardless…

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Parenting and Guidance

As August begins school, he comes into contact for the first time with professional teachers and with parents other than his own and those of his long-term childhood friends. Through August's observations of these adults, the novel interrogates both how adolescents view adult presences in their lives, as well as what role adults should play in the lives of their children and students. Ultimately, Wonder proposes that parents and teachers have a great deal of…

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