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What function does Miss Brill’s fur serve in the story?  What is the meaing of the...

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lulu-1222 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 10, 2009 at 6:03 PM via web

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What function does Miss Brill’s fur serve in the story?  What is the meaing of the final scene?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 10, 2009 at 10:08 PM (Answer #1)

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Miss Brill's fur is an extension of herself.  If we think about it, we can see some striking parallels.  For example, Miss Brill lives in a "cupboard" of a room.  The fur lives in a box.  Miss Brill comes alive each Sunday when she goes to the park.  This is the only time that the "fur" comes alive as she takes it out weekly when she goes to the park.  The fur looks at her with those eyes and asks about why it is here, and what is happening.  Miss Brill never asks those questions of her own life, but very well should.  The fur is mistaken about its own pride and sense of existence.  If we are to extrapolate the idea that it has its own thoughts, then it, too, believes that Sundays are the best day of the week, that it is an essential part of the drama unfolding in the park, that it brings a source of collectivity and unity with its presence.  It believes this because Miss Brill believes it.  When the young couple deride Miss Brill and her fur, she perceives it to be because of the latter, which is why, when she puts it away, she hears it crying.  The fur has become an extension of her, and all of its actions (asking questions, wondering purpose) are what Miss Brill should be doing.  This is why it is so important when it cries.  Miss Brill should be doing that.

It is interesting to see that an object holds that much meaning in this particular work. It is evident that Miss Brill places much importance on the fur.  She seems to dote on it as a child and link her own life to it.  In this vein, Mansfield seems to be suggesting that since we give objects a life of their own, perhaps we can extend this out and understand what they can be telling us about ourselves.

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