Study Guide

The View from Saturday Courage

By E. L. Konigsburg

Advertisement - Guide continues below


She still did not know [why she chose the team] (and wouldn't until after it was all over), but by that time the success of The Souls (even if she did not yet know that they were The Souls) had made Mrs. Olinski less timid. (2.5)

Bravery is about a lot more than showing up for a fight. By retaking control of the classroom and of her own life, Mrs. Olinski shows incredible bravery.

Mrs. Olinski gave up. Everyone believed that she could be wounded by the word cripple. She could never explain to Dr. Rohmer, nor would she try to, that the word itself does not hurt, but the manner of its delivery can. For all of his training, Dr. Rohmer would never believe that cripples themselves are a diverse group, and some make jokes. (2.12)

Here, Mrs. Olinski already seems to have a kind of courage. It takes guts to make jokes about yourself—a lot more than to make them about other people.

As she wrote paraplegic, Mrs. Olinski spelled it out, "P-A-R-A-P-L-E-G-I-C. It means that I am paralyzed from the waist down." Her voice was steady, but I noticed that her hands were not. The O of Olinski was not round or smooth but nervous. ("Ethan Explains the B and B Inn".46)

Wow. We admire the courage of any middle school teacher, much less one in a wheelchair.

The question was: Had Julian erased PARAPLEGIC, or was he in the process of erasing CRIPPLE? I glanced back at Hamilton Knapp and saw him exchange a look and a slight smile with Michael Froelich, and I knew the answer. ("Ethan Explains the B and B Inn".59)

Knapp's "slight smile" tells us all we need to know about him. He's a coward who's willing to let someone else take the fall for his own misdeeds.

His book bag now read:

I am a passenger on Spaceship Earth [.] ("Ethan Explains the B and B Inn".71-3)

Julian returns to school with his marked bookbag, but he's not defeated. He's turned Hamilton's insult into a statement of courage and—even more cool—unity.

Something in Sillington House gave me permission to do things I had never done before. Never even thought of doing. Something there triggered the unfolding of those parts that had been incubating. Things that had lain inside me, curled up like the turtle hatchlings newly emerged from their eggs, taking time in the dark of their nest to unfurl themselves. ("Ethan Explains the B and B Inn".258)

Being at Sillington House gives Ethan confidence—just like a little turtle pecking its way out of a shell, ready for the harrowing journey down to sea. Awww.

"Of course, I have heard that expression, but fact: Mrs. Olinski cannot stand on her own two feet and further fact: she obviously…" Noah's voice trailed off as he understood. "I get it," he said. "I get it. It is scary trying to stand on your own two feet especially when you don't have a leg to stand on, so to speak." (4.27)

Courage isn't just something that you have or you don't have. Sometimes, it's something that other people can help you with.

Mrs. Olinski did not take kindly to these remarks. Her voice quavering, she answered her critics. "I have my reasons," she said, even though she knew she didn't. Something stronger than reason was having its way with her, and she didn't know what that was either. (5.1)

At this point, Mrs. Olinski still doesn't have the courage of her own convictions. She knows that she's right, but she can't quite muster up the guts to convince other people.

"Well then," Mrs. Olinski replied, "much as I respect your coach, I recommend that you start buying rope." She shifted her head slightly and added, "By the way, Mr. LeDue, in our grunge neighborhood, we say hanged, not hung. Check it out." (7.17)

The Souls' victories have given Mrs. Olinski so much courage that she not only stands up (so to speak) to Mr. LeDue—she even corrects his grammar.

Mrs. Olinski added, "After my accident it took more courage to get back into the passenger's side of an automobile than it took for me to learn to drive again."

"I can understand that," Mr. Singh replied. "It often takes more courage to be a passenger than a driver." (10.3-4)

Mrs. Olinski is being super honest with Mr. Singh, and she doesn't even know him that well. She's telling him important things about herself that nobody else may know. She tells him what it "took" for her to be the most brave. Mr. Singh supports her and even agrees. They both say that it "takes more courage" to go along for the ride than to be in charge of where you're going.

The View from Saturday Courage Study Group

Ask questions, get answers, and discuss with others.

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

This is a premium product

Please Wait...