Wonder Summary and Analysis of Part V: Justin


This section focuses on Justin, Via's new boyfriend, who calls Via by her full name, Olivia. It is written in the way that Justin himself would write it, very informally, with no capitalization. Justin recounts meeting Auggie for the first time, recalling that he was taken by surprise. Then, Justin moves on to talk about Via; they have been dating for two months when the section opens, and he knew that he liked her from the moment he first saw her sit down at his table in the cafeteria.

After introducing Justin to Auggie, Via takes Justin her room and tells him that a lot of kids would never come back for a second playdate after meeting Auggie. Yet Justin tells her that he is not freaked out by Auggie, and seems convinced that Via believes his words.

For Valentine's Day, Via makes Justin a messenger bag out of old floppy disks; Justin talks about how she makes all sorts of creative objects. He tells her she should be an artist, but instead Via wants to be a geneticist, probably so that she can find ways to assist people with conditions like Auggie's. They make plans for Justin to finally meet Via's parents at a Mexican restaurant. He is nervous, and his tics start showing -- small muscle spasms and blinks that manifest themselves when Justin is stressed. But everything goes well and the Pullmans are very excited to meet their daughter's boyfriend; they even ask about the music he plays.

Justin then accompanies the Pullmans home and is told the story of how the Pullmans got their dog Daisy: Via's dad saw a homeless guy pushing a dog in a stroller and bought it from him, taking it home before asking the rest of the family for their feedback. Justin loves Via's family: his own family is not like the affectionate Pullman family at all, because his parents are divorced and do not get along.

For the spring play, Justin and Via's school is staging the classic drama Our Town. Via dares Justin to try out for the lead role, which he gets. Via does not get the female lead, though: Miranda does. Yet Via seems relieved because she does not like the possibility of people staring at her. For his part, Justin heard that the school was planning to produce a play called The Elephant Man, but switched to Our Town at the last minute.

One day, Justin leaves the Pullman house at the same time as Auggie's friend Jack, and stays with Jack until the bus comes. Jack borrows a dollar from Justin to buy some gum. While Jack is crossing the street, Justin watches as a couple of kids walk by and sneer at Jack. He asks Jack if they are friends of his; Jack says that they are just some jerks from school named Julian, Henry, and Miles. Jack explains the war going that is raging over his friendship with Auggie. Justin advises Jack to tell a teacher about his problems, but Jack refuses. Jack gets on the bus, and as Justin walks to the subway station he spots the three kids again and warns them not to mess with Jack, tapping his fiddle case because he knows that they do not know what is inside.

During play rehearsals, Justin gets to know Miranda better. He is surprised when Miranda asks about Via's brother, because Via did not tell Justin that she and Miranda had been good friends. Miranda talks about how she has known Auggie since he was a baby; she takes a picture of him in his astronaut helmet out of her wallet. Annoyed that Via did not tell him about Miranda, Jack confronts Via about her past friendship. Via says that her link to Miranda is not a big deal because Miranda is no longer the person she once was.

Justin and Via fight a little bit, and Via gets emotional -- not because of Justin's treatment, but because she feels like a terrible person. She has not told her parents about the show, because she does not want them to come and bring Auggie. If Auggie is there, then everyone will know about him; as it is, Via likes being in a new school where no one is whispering about her family behind her back.

In the final chapter of his section, Justin muses over something Miranda said to him: the universe was not kind to Auggie Pullman. Justin thinks at first that the universe is random, but realizes that it cannot be, since it does take care of its most fragile creations in different ways. It gave Auggie a loving family, after all.


This is one of the shorter sections, but Justin's segments are extremely important because they give us our first substantial look at Auggie's family from the outside. Summer and Jack only briefly interacted with the rest of Auggie's family, but Justin spends a lot of time getting to know the Pullmans and their family dynamic. Through Justin's point of view, readers get to see how this loving, supportive family appears to onlookers; the Pullmans' close-knit relationship becomes even more significant when Justin reflects on the lack of love and connection in his own family.

This section is also important because it is delivered from the perspective of someone who focuses primarily on Via, rather than on Auggie. In Via's section, one of Via's biggest complaints is that she feels invisible because her entire life is defined by her little brother's condition. Now, she has found someone who gets to know her outside the context of her little brother, but who still comes to love and appreciate her family. Justin even calls her Olivia rather than Via, a sign that Via is able to exist outside her family. For Via, Justin is the best of both worlds, a companion who fits seamlessly into both the school and the home components of her life.

The Pullmans' dog Daisy is an important character in her own right. In her periodic appearances, Daisy has been a source of comfort for Auggie and the rest of his family. In this section, readers learn about how she came to be in the Pullman household, and Justin observes how the Pullmans love her and how she brings them together. Daisy's unconditional love starkly contrasts with the absence of acceptance and kindness displayed by many human characters in Wonder. As a dog, she truly does love everyone, regardless of how their faces look.

The school play is a plot device that will bring Miranda back into Via's life. The first traces of this transition appear in this section, when Justin and Miranda get to know each other and Justin discovers Miranda's connection to his girlfriend. One message that Wonder conveys is that there is always more than one side to a story. We have already encountered Via's perspective on the disintegration of her earlier friendship, but have not yet encountered Miranda's.

Despite Justin's positive presence in her life, Via is still struggling to be the new person she wants to be in her new school. She feels guilty for wanting so badly to separate herself from her family, guilty for wanting to redefine herself and, by extension, push her beloved little brother farther away. There is only so much that Justin, an outsider, can do to help Via work through her emotions; this is a predicament that Via will have to resolve on her own.

Up until the end of this section, Auggie has been portrayed as an extremely unlucky kid. His facial condition has brought forth forms of hardship and intolerance that no child should ever have to face; at first, Miranda seems to have it right when she says that the universe has not been kind to him. But Justin's analysis at the end of this section reminds readers that there are infinite ways to be lucky, and Auggie is lucky in the best way of them all: he has a loving family that always stands by him. Certainly not everyone is that fortunate. Indeed, Palacio's treatment of Justin's perspective underlines the important theme of family in this novel.