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Psychological Themes In Duncan's Novel, Killing Mr. Griffin

913 words - 4 pages

The Novel Killing Mr. Griffin by: Lois Duncan is a story about the plot of kidnapping the English teacher of Del Norte High school. Being a student of Del Norte High school, Susan McConnell (the protagonist) encounters some difficulties and joy after she finally gets accepted in the “popular” herd. These upside and downsides turn into major themes which are incorporated during the course of the book. The major themes that are developed inside the book are: peer pressure/manipulation, psychopaths, conscience/guilt.

First of all, peer pressure/manipulation is the lighting match of the whole conflict inside the story. Mark Kinney is the father of all peer pressuring during this story; he uses phrases as: “aw its just a joke, last year senior class kidnapped Mrs. Luna. To slowly manipulate/peer pressure his friends into helping him in abducting Mr. Griffin. After it all goes wrong and Sue tells Mark people will notice Mr. Griffin is gone, he says in chapter 9 page 110: “They do, men leave home all the time. They go-just light out and go- and years go by and nobody ever finds out where they went”. He uses several more phrases like this one to sooth the characters into “not spilling the beans.” Apparently, Mark is less afraid than all other characters about the consequences; Mark had a rough child hood, and problems with his parents and guardian which made him turn out to be stubborn, rude, manipulative and fearless.

This brings us to the second theme psychopaths. Mark clearly has some psychological problems, no fear of the outcomes and no pity towards Mr. Griffin. Jeff has been a friend to Mark Kinney since elementary school, the first time Jeff meets Mark is when Mark says to Jeff to meet him behind the school when class ends. Behind school Mark sets a cat on fire right in front of Jeff this immediately gives the reader a strange feeling about Mark. Mark’s psychological problems become more and more clear to the reader throughout the book. Eventually Susan McConnell can’t take the guilt feelings and decides to tell the whole story to the cops, but Mark is not okay with this and decides to tie up Susan and burn down the house with Susan and Mark inside. This part of the book is most likely the climax of the book; at this point, the reader finally is certain that Mark has some psychological problems. After this suspenseful scene the next chapter immediately starts back at the house of Susan, she is still alive and does not want to talk about what happened. Her mother tries to convince her to speak up and tell what happened, her mom eventually reads her something about a certain personality:
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