Study Guide

The View from Saturday Choices

By E. L. Konigsburg

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Mrs. Eva Marie Olinski always gave good answers. Whenever she was asked how she had selected her team for the Academic Bowl, she chose one of several good answers. (1.1)

We usually think of a "good answer" as being the "right answer." But, unlike at Academic Bowl, life often has more than one answer—and they're not always right, even if they're good.

After The Souls had won the Epiphany Middle School championship, Dr. Roy Clayton Rohmer paid a visit to Mrs. Olinski and asked—guess what?—why had she chosen this team. (2.5)

Mrs. Olinski is tired of getting asked about the reasons for picking her team. What difference does it make? Her team is her team. She picked them, or they picked her, or they picked each other. Doesn't matter. End of story.

Then he said, "Margaret and I need your help, Nadia. So do the turtles. Sometimes one species has to help another get settled." Grandpa was apologizing for not telling me about Margaret's meddling. I did not know what to say. ("Nadia Tells of Turtle Love".213)

Defenseless baby animals are in danger, and Nadia can either help them or let them die. Easy choice, right? But Grandpa Izzy makes the choice more difficult for Nadia by using the situation to say he's sorry. He puts the turtles in the middle of Nadia's decision whether to forgive him or not.

When Mrs. Olinski decided that Ethan should be a member of her team, she did not tell Margy or, for that matter, anyone else either. (3.9)

For a book about a competition designed to test how much you know, there sure is a lot of secret-keeping.

A lightened ring in the leather around the first four syllables where someone had made several attempts to erase the writing looked like a halo. ("Ethan Explains the B and B Inn".74)

Julian tried to "erase" what happened and couldn't. But he doesn't show up at school the next day with new bag. Instead, he changed what he couldn't erase.

"I've never heard of someone giving someone a pet for a present without permission and then choosing that pet's name without even asking."

Nadia said, "Well, Noah, now you have. In a single afternoon you have heard of both." ("Ethan Explains the B and B Inn".162-3)

Noah is upset with Nadia on Julian's behalf, because Nadia has made choices for Julian that Noah thinks Julian should have made for himself. Absent in this discussion? What Julian thinks.

"As a matter of fact, I do," she said. "And swear that as my prize, you will accept my choice." ("Ethan Explains the B and B Inn".231-2)

Of course Nadia has something in mind—and of course the name she chooses is the right choice. Nadia, after all, is a genius. Or has a genius. We get the two mixed up.

I could save Arnold from the poisoned treats, let him go on, and let Knapp think that his dirty trick had worked. One for the price of two. Or I could let Arnold eat the drugged treats, embarrass Froelich, and let Ginger go on. Two for the price of one.

There they were, waiting on the prop table. There they were, waiting for my decision. ("Julian Narrates When Ginger Played Annie's Sandy".109-10)

Here, Julian is forced into a real moral decision. Should he give the bullies a taste of their own medicine, or should he be the better person? In the end, he gets the best of both worlds: He decides to be the better person, and the bullies mess up the play anyway.

She had been correcting social studies papers and had just finished reading Noah Gershon's essay on the First Amendment when the thought flew into her head. She would appoint her team, the way the president appointed his cabinet. She made her decision. Just. Like. That.

She chose Noah right away, and almost immediately after, she thought of Nadia and Ethan. (5.3-4)

Mrs. Olinski makes a split-second decision to "appoint" her team, rather than holding a contest for team membership. But, really, how much choice is going on here?

She waited until they were all in their usual places, and then she asked, "Did I choose you, or did you choose me?"

And The Souls answered, "Yes!" (12.4-5)

This is the right answer, even if it isn't really a "good" answer. They all choose. They choose each other.

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