What role does Miss Brill's fur piece play in the story? In what sense, if any, does it function as a character?
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Miss Brill is a friendless old woman living in France, meeking out a living by such genteel activities as teaching English and reading the newspaper to an “old invalid gentleman” (who sleeps while she reads).
She has no intimate acquaintances. Probably by the end of the first paragraph everyone has a pretty good idea of her emotionally starved life—though Miss Brill herself seems quite content, delighting in the weather and in her shabby fox, as later she will delight in much of what she sees in the park. In the first paragraph she is identified with the fox—an identification that is insisted on in the final paragraph, when Miss Brill has returned to “the little dark room—her room like a cupboard”—and the fox is returned to its box.
In the last paragraph, Miss Brill, who loves her fur as if it were a living pet or companion, is probably capable of thinking it was that “little rogue” she heard crying over the cruelty of the young couple in the park. It’s possible, too, to believe that Miss Brill actually does hear a sound and that the “something crying” is herself.
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