Study Guide

The View from Saturday Principles

By E. L. Konigsburg

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To the district superintendent of schools, she gave a bad answer, but she did that only once, only to him, and if that answer was not good, her reason for giving it was. (1.1)

What's important here is not whether Mrs. Olinski's answer was "bad" (it was), but that her reason for giving it was "good." The reasoning is more important than the actual answer. (Don't try that on your next math test.)

After choosing a nib Tillie said, "I hope in the future, Noah, that you will use a ballpoint pen only when you have to press hard to make multiple carbons."

I couldn't promise that. There were times in school when a person had to do things fast, cheap, and without character.

Tillie said, "There are pens that come with ink in a cartridge, Noah, but I will have nothing to do with them." ("Noah Writes a B & B Letter".22-24)

Well, you have to have principles about something. Might as well be your pen.

I controlled my voice so that it would not quiver. I said, "You should have told me that. You should have told me long before now. A person with good manners would have." ("Nadia Tells of Turtle Love".110-111)

Nadia accuses Ethan of not having "good manners." For her, "good manners" aren't about writing B & B letters but about principals.

Hamilton Knapp, who had taken a seat in the very last row, farthest from the door, stood up and said, "Excuse me, Mrs. Olinski, but I can't see what you've written. Could you write a little higher on the blackboard, please?"

Mrs. Olinski smiled. "Not at the moment," she said.

Ham sat down and said, "Sorry." She didn't mean that smile, and Ham Knapp didn't mean that "Sorry." ("Ethan Explains the B and B Inn".48-50)

Dude, Hamilton. You're not fooling anyone. Not us, not the classroom, and definitely not Mrs. Olinski.

Except for Uncle Lew who was in politics, Potters are famous for not saying anything they don't mean. ("Ethan Explains the B and B Inn".85)

If a Potter tells you something, you know he or she really stands behind it. Unless he's a politician. In that case, all bets are off.

When she [Mrs. Olinski] returned from lunch and saw CRIPPLE written on the blackboard, she knew more than the names had changed. Sixth graders had changed. (4.11)

Look, if you're going to be a jerk you should at least have the guts to be a jerk to someone's face. It doesn't take much courage to write something mean on a blackboard. While everyone is at lunch.

I wanted Ginger to get the part, not only because she belonged to Nadia and not only because she was Alice's mother but also because I did not want Michael Froelich to have the honor. Since those first weeks at school, I had done my best to avoid both Michael Froelich and his friend, Hamilton Knapp. ("Julian Narrates When Ginger Played Annie's Sandy".43)

Julian is a complicated guy. It's not enough for him to have one reason to want Ginger to win the part; he has to have three.

Mrs. Olinski said, "That is either the most honest or the most dishonest answer I have ever heard. I must notify the bus driver that I'll be driving you four souls home." ("Julian Narrates When Ginger Played Annie's Sandy".149)

How can something be either "the most honest or the most dishonest"? Maybe the same way that the answer to "chicken or egg?" can be "Yes!"

I stood alone. There was something I wanted to do. When Knapp had started that ruckus, I had momentarily regretted my decision to save Arnold. I was still so angry that I was about to violate one of the cardinal rules that Gopal had taught me. ("Julian Narrates When Ginger Played Annie's Sandy".155)

Principals are great until you really need to get revenge—and then morality gets a little flexible. After all, thinks Julian, even Gopal will forgive him.

Mr. Fairbain […] smiling and looking out over the audience, and wanting to reinforce his compliment, asked, "What is your tribe?"

Dr. Rohmer paled to the point of translucence, and the audience gasped. Everyone—even those who had not had diversity training at taxpayer expense—knew that even though it was correct to recognize a person's ethnicity, it was not correct to comment upon it in public. (7.30-1)

Mr. Fairbain goofs here, but maybe the worse crime is that no one corrects him. They have the practice of multicultural sensitivity, but not the true principal.

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