Character Development Of Miss Ferenczi In Gryphon By Charles Baxter

1189 words - 5 pages

In the short story Gryphon, Charles Baxter creates a far-from-perfect character, the substitute teacher Miss Ferenczi, who lives in a fantasy world without boundaries and tiresome limits. Her arrival has a great influence on the whole rural Five Oaks community. Miss Ferenczi's appearance and behaviors, portrayed through her student's eyes, place her as a symbol of reformation and immerses her students into a rich and fascinating world.Charles Baxter introduces Miss Ferenczi into the fourth grade class of Five Oaks community in a mysterious way. Unlike other boring normal substitute teachers the children are used to, she comes in with her purple purse and checkerboard lunchbox signaling the beginning of an unusual experience. As she walks to the blackboard, picking up pieces of white and green chalk, she draws a large oak tree on the left side of the blackboard saying the class needs this tree in it. This first scene alone has already created a mystic fog about the new teacher's behavior and personality. She then tells the class about her royal Hungarian ancestor, which adds more to the strange atmosphere. She was proud of her mother being a famous pianist who succeeded her first concert in London for "crowned heads." The way she nostalgically looks up to the ceiling, makes the students follow her eyes but see nothing except for ceiling tiles. Her actions are far more than what fourth graders can possibly understand. This is the start of strange events following in the plot. However the most remarkable detail is her physical appearance: "her face had two prominent lines, descending vertically from the sides of her mouth to her chin." This abnormal feature is foreshadowing for what happens later on and also a hint at an unreal, numinous personality. The two lines remind Tommy, the little narrator, of Pinocchio. The comparison of Miss Ferenczi to this character is foretelling of her later unreliability of her words, since, like Pinocchio, her nose is also prone to extend. The students later on question on the truthfulness of Miss Ferenczi's lessons. Moreover, Pinocchio is a product of imagination, as Miss Ferenczi living in her unreal world.Miss Ferenczi is also well portrayed through her lectures. The first incident is when John Wazny is doing the multiplication table. As another boy pointed out Wazny said six times eleven is sixty eight, and the right answer should be sixty six. Miss Ferenczi on the other hand tells them the answer of sixty eight is also right, "when I am in the room." She encourages the children to form their own perspective of life and tries to make them break out of the rules and norms other adults created. Mr. Hibler, as well as any other teacher would tell the kid that math, as a science, is facts which cannot be bent. In contrast Miss Ferenczi simply states "It's more interesting that way" to explain her odd answer. She exposed her class to "substitute facts," things perceived out of ordinary and accepted by the minority or...

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