Literary Analysis Research Paper
Miss Ferenczi vs. a Gryphon
“Gryphon” is a short story written by Charles Baxter. Within this story the reader will experience a few days in the life of a fourth grade class; specifically, a few days spent with a unique substitute teacher. The simple day-to-day life of a couple dozen 4th graders isn’t often compared to a creature of myth. So why, in this story, is the term gryphon used? Metaphorically, this title describes the substitute teacher this fourth grade class is introduced to, Miss Ferenczi. Like a gryphon, Miss Ferenczi is misunderstood, courageous, and intelligent. “Griffins are portrayed with [the] rear body of a lion, an eagle's head, with erect ears, and [a] feathered breast, with forelegs of an eagle, including claws,” (Oliver). With a picture like this one in mind, it’s effortless to see why any gryphon would be an outcast or at least misunderstood at first glance. The outward physical appearance of such a creature is not widely accepted, to say the least. Miss Ferenczi herself is depicted as dressed strangely and groomed curiously. It is even implied that her uniqueness, which is more than skin-deep, is capable of hindering her personal relationships, such as with her co-workers or past lovers. According to “Definition of a Gryphon,” gryphon is variant of griffin, which is the more popular way of spelling the term. As if a gyphon was not yet unique enough, the author if this short story chose to use the least popular version of spelling as well. This is yet another symbol of how truly one-of-a-kind Miss Ferenczi is. In literature gryphons are often “…used to denote strength and military courage and leadership,” (Oliver). Miss Ferenczi commands a room with ease, and she does so with a class she is not familiar with. She shows greater leadership than even the natural leader of the 4th grade class, Mr. Hibler, whom she is substituting for. Miss. Ferenczi is described as a curious dresser,...
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