In the bestselling novel Wonder, author R.J. Palacio uses different narrators to follow the life of protagonist August Pullman, who suffers from a facial deformity - mandibulofacial dysostosis - setting him apart from the rest of his peers. The book follows the troubles that Auggie faces as he navigates middle school, making friends and enemies along the way.
Throughout the book, each character encounters different challenges that shape their personalities. By the end of the year, every student demonstrates clear success, not by academic or sports achievements - though these were important - but by how they reacted to each and every obstacle they came across during the year. August develops maturity and learns to accept himself and forgive others. Summer establishes a strong connection with August after she sits with him at lunchtime. Julian never really turned out to be a ‘good kid’ but by the end of the book, he does learn from his mistakes.
Though each character has different forms of success, Palacio chooses events that reflect the character's past personalities, and allows them to be successful.
A motif in the book is August’s astronaut helmet, which he constantly used as a child to hide his face. However, August’s father missed seeing his son’s face and threw it out. This unexpected turn of events taught August a valuable life lesson on how to accept himself as he is. August's confidence builds throughout the book so ultimately he grows into a successful student.
Summer is portrayed as an extraordinary child because of her kindness towards August. Initially she defied everybody’s expectations by sitting with August at lunchtime on the first day of fifth-grade. She soon grew to become fond of August and hung out with him not out of sympathy but because she actually enjoyed August’s company. He was such a good sport about himself. That's one of the things I like the most about Auggie. Summer took her loyalty towards August to the next level by defending him in front of the popular groups. She even went as far as declining an offer to be part of the popular group, a group that most fifth-graders would give their arm and leg to join. You could totally be part of our group if you wanted to, and believe me, there are a lot of girls in our grade who would love that. Summer was mature enough to see past the popular group’s façade, to see how they treated people like August whose differences caused him great grief.
Julian is the main antagonist in the book Wonder and is portrayed as selfish and heartless. From the word go, he goes out of his way to criticize August, having the nerve to ask rude questions about his face. What's the deal with your face? I mean, were you in a fire or something?
Even though nothing that he did in the book was successful, Julian showed a new side at the end of the book, and finally felt remorse for his actions. Palacio gave Julian a strong character, and set up events so Julian was able to be successful.
Mr Tushman, the Principal, states the following in the graduation ceremony: The best way to measure how much you've grown isn't by inches or the number of laps you can now run around the track, or even your grade point average - though these things are important, to be sure. It's what you've done with your time, how you've chosen to spend your days, and whom you have touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.
Throughout the book, R.J. Palacio sets each character up with trials and challenges. August matures and along the way learns to accept himself and to forgive. Summer ended up not developing greatly, because she already had the core virtues for success under her belt. Julian learnt to be remorseful, and to be sorry for his actions.
Wonder is a book that goes through the many trials of a boy with physical deformities, and the trials of everyone affected. The book rapidly turns from light-hearted themes, to more mature themes that challenge each character’s personality. Wonder displays success in different ways and Palacio shows that anyone can be successful, no matter how bad their previous actions.
The inspirational novel Wonder written by R.J Palacio explores many topics, all narrated by different characters that create a 3-dimensional view of the life of August Pullman as he struggles to master the tough act of self-acceptance, due to the fact that he was born with a severe facial deformity. Although the book begins in a light-hearted tone, it shifts to a more serious one as the story unfolds. Throughout the story, the characters develop in personality after overcoming challenges of their own, thus demonstrating success, as the Principal Mr Tushman announced at graduation.
As the main protagonist of the book August suffers many instances in which he is bullied for his face, but thanks to the help of friends who demonstrate brilliant acts of kindness, he is aided on his journey to find peace within himself.
Palacio creates the story in a way that allows the characters to tackle and conquer their challenges. August, the main protagonist of Palacio’s novel, unfortunately undergoes several moments in his so far brief middle school experience that would be enough to permanently scar any kid his age. But not August. He never describes anything he does as particularly courageous, and yet it must take bucket-loads of courage to face the world every single day. August grows throughout the text, showing great signs of maturity, especially when he leaves his family for camp. He’d never spent longer than a night away from his mother’s warm embrace yet now he had gone to camp for a whole three days. Another pivotal moment was the fight in the woods. August didn’t let the older kid’s insults affect him as they would have earlier in the book. He lets the comments slide with dignity.
Courage. Kindness. Friendship. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us… to greatness. Mr Tushman quotes this as he presented August with the Henry Ward Beecher medal, which recognised how many people he impacted over the year and how successful his actions were.
Playing the permanent role of being the deformed kid’s sister, Olivia learns how to master creating a life that isn’t defined by her brothers’ condition. During her primary school years, Via was always known as that ugly kid’s sister. She was never her own person.
As the book progressed, she realised she shouldn’t be ashamed of her brother, it wasn’t his fault he was born this way. Her boyfriend Justin once said Olivia brings me good luck. A little sentence like this, a little spark of positivity for her self-esteem, immensely helps Via as she sees herself branch out, forming the person she truly is; simply Via Pullman. She flourishes as the book heads to a close, her character development revealing a motivated, compassionate and kind girl who successfully lives her own life accompanied by her brother.
Throughout the book the characters are revealed to be successful . August matures with the help of new friends, allowing him to become a more resilient person and to brave the problems he faces with dignity. Olivia is stuck with the challenge of finding a way to prove that she isn’t defined by her brother’s condition, which she does superbly.
As each individual is presented with their own challenges the characters learn to respond appropriately, in so doing, demonstrating successful attributes of their personalities.