Wonder Essay Questions

  1. 1

    In what way does this book embody the common message "Don't judge a book by its cover"?

    Throughout the novel, Auggie constantly fights to be known for something other than the way he looks. His face may appear strange and frightening, but on the inside he is no different from any other kid. He is courageous, funny, helpful, and considerate -- a great friend to anyone who gets to know him. Auggie's classmates learn over the course of the novel that they cannot judge him based on the way he looks and eventually get to know the brilliant, kind kid that Auggie really is.

  2. 2

    How do Mr. Browne's precepts figure in the book?

    Each month, Mr. Browne writes a new precept on the board, with the intention of guiding his students to make good decisions. All of the precepts center around some of this novel's basic themes: kindness, the lasting nature of individual actions, friendship, and knowledge, to name a few. The students at Beecher Prep learn to embody these important messages as they go through the school year, particularly as they relate to Auggie, someone who looks very different from them. When, at the end of the novel, the children write their own precepts over the summer, they show at last that they have truly internalized Mr. Browne's ideas and learned a lot from them.

  3. 3

    Why is this novel told from the points of view of multiple characters?

    Whenever multiple characters get chances to share their perspectives in a novel, the author clearly wants to emphasize that there are many sides to his or her story. Wonder revolves around Auggie, but there is much more to see even beyond Auggie's own intriguing viewpoint. Via's section gives readers a chance to see what it is like to be in Auggie's family. Jack's section lets us see that Jack is not a terrible person after all, despite what Auggie overheard. Every character brings something new to the novel, helping Palacio weave a complex account from multiple strands and stories.

  4. 4

    Why are the bonds that unify the Pullman family so important?

    Justin remarks at the end of his section that the universe has blessed Auggie with a loving family. The Pullmans constantly support, encourage, and love one another, even in the face of everything Auggie has to deal with. The members of Auggie's family certainly make mistakes, and just like any close group of relatives they have fights. But at the end of the day, the Pullmans are always there for each other: it is this family dynamic that has nurtured Auggie into the brave, kind person he needs to be in order to face his daily challenges.

  5. 5

    How are masks important in Wonder?

    Throughout his childhood, Auggie has loved wearing a mask because a mask allows him to hide his deformity. He wore his astronaut helmet all day, every day when he was younger, and he loves Halloween because he gets to wear a mask and pretend that he is someone else. But as Auggie's dad reminds him at the end of the novel, Auggie may not like his face, but it is who he is; several characters -- particularly members of Auggie's family -- love every part of Auggie, including his face. Masks can hide who you really are, but sometimes it is better to be your true self.

  6. 6

    Julian is the only character who does not learn a lesson about kindness at the end of this book. Why did Palacio choose not to have him change?

    Julian embodies what Via said to Auggie early on in the book: some kids will always be mean. No matter how likable and friendly Auggie is, there will always be those kids who cannot see past his face. What Auggie learns, though, is that he does not have to keep those people in his life, and that things have a habit of working out for the best. It is important to move past unchangeable, negative opinions and not let them get to you.

  7. 7

    What is the difference between the way Auggie views himself and the way other people view him?

    Auggie's ultimate wish is to be normal, and he envisions himself as an ordinary kid despite his medical condition. This outlook is different even from how his protective family views him; others think of Auggie as extraordinary, both for having surmounted all of the obstacles that he has faced and for being a kind, compassionate, courageous person despite his struggles. At the end of the book, Auggie accepts that in some ways he is a hero to some people; in his own mind, though, he is just an average kid.

  8. 8

    How does Jack change over the course of the novel?

    Jack initially spends time with Auggie only because Mr. Tushman asks him to. At the beginning, Jack is extremely conscious of his popularity and social standing at school, and says a lot of things he does not mean in order to be friends with Julian and his crowd. After he loses Auggie's friendship, though, Jack realizes where his priorities should lie. The moment when he punches Julian is a turning point for Jack; he establishes his allegiance at last, and rises above the petty fighting that Julian tries to start. Instead, Jack wants to do the right thing and be kind.

  9. 9

    In what ways is the Beecher Prep middle school a microcosm of the outside world?

    Though they are only children, the students at Beecher Prep have to face many of the challenges that adults face, too. They have to adapt to a new situation -- in this case, a new student who looks dramatically different -- and must learn to show kindness and inclusion. At Beecher Prep, some of the rumors about who is dating whom and who is friends with whom get blown out of proportion, but in the end, the students learn some important, adult lessons during their time at school.

  10. 10

    Why is Justin an important character?

    Since Wonder is primarily about Auggie, it at first seems strange to include the perspective of Via's boyfriend. But Justin serves two important purposes. First, he gives us an outside perspective on the Pullman family, remarking on their closeness the way only someone meeting them for the first time can. Second, he shifts some of the focus to Via and gives her plenty of attention, while Via herself sometimes feels neglected by her own family.