Kindness features prominently in this novel, as many of Auggie's struggles in life are linked to the unkind responses of others. At the end of the novel, Mr. Tushman makes an important graduation speech about the importance of being kind to all people, regardless of background, circumstances, or appearance. Indeed, by the final chapters, both Auggie and his fellow students have learned important lessons about how essential kindness truly is.
Tolerance of Differences
Middle school is often a cutthroat place, and kids who are different in any clear way will stand out from the crowd and face bullying as a result of their differences. Auggie's differences are evident the minute he steps foot in school; however, the other kids must try to get used to the way he looks and accept him for who he is. The more the other kids spend time around Auggie, the more they realize that his outward appearance does not make him any different from them on the inside. Auggie's presence at Beecher Prep helps everyone in the school become more tolerant and more accepting.
Auggie's family is crucial to his growth and maturity over the course of the novel. The other Pullmans are a constant source of support, encouragement, and love, no matter how rough it gets of Auggie as he tries to fit in beyond his family unit. Family is also important because other characters do not have the luxury of a close family like Auggie's: both Justin and Miranda comment that the Pullmans' family dynamic is so special because they themselves come from split-parent families. While the universe has been unkind to Auggie in many ways, in perhaps the most important way it has blessed him with a loving, supportive family that can help him get through almost anything.
Auggie shows great courage in surmounting all of the obstacles that he faces in his life. He pushes on despite the kids who mock him, torment him, and bully him, revealing true strength of character. It takes a tough person to be as courageous as Auggie is, and while it seems unfair for a child so young to have to face so many challenges, his bravery in the face of all of it sets an example for readers both old and young.
It only takes one person to help someone who was once lonely feel much more confident and secure, and the friends that Auggie makes in the course of the novel play a huge role in helping him to get through his first year at school. Summer is a true friend to Auggie right from the very beginning: she is there for him during his toughest time. While Jack screws up and says things he does not mean, he eventually realizes the error of his ways and apologizes, seeing at last how important Auggie's friendship is to him. True friends make it so much easier to face and overcome any challenge in life.
Outside vs. Inside
The novel explores a complicated theme when it addresses the differences between the way someone looks on the outside and who the same person is on the inside. Auggie does not want to be defined by the way he looks, and hopes that people can see through his unexpected appearance. He has multiple conversations with both Summer and his mother about heaven, particularly about whether or not people keep their faces after they die. He likes to think that sometime, in another life, he might be known for something more than his unusual face.
Popularity is an important theme in this novel: multiple characters struggle with the choice between doing what will make them popular and doing what they know is right. Jack tries initially to fit in with Julian because he wants to be popular, but eventually realizes that being a friend to Auggie is more important. Miranda tells lies at camp to be popular, but loses her best friend as a result of this dishonesty and comes to see that being friends with Via is what really matters to her. Popularity is a huge concern for middle school and high school students. Wonder explores their constant desire to want to fit in, no matter the cost.
Wonder Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Wonder is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.