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Mrs. Granger’s love of language is symbolized by the dictionary, and also demonstrated by her reaction to the changing of a word.
At the end of the book, Mrs. Granger explains why she loves the dictionary in a letter to Nick.
Words are used to think with, to write with, to dream with, to hope and pray with. And that is why I love the dictionary. It endures. It works. And as you know now, it also changes and grows. (ch 15, p. 100)
Mrs. Granger has many dictionaries, and she sends a note home to all of the fifth graders telling them to get a dictionary because “clear thinking requires a command of the English language” and fifth grade is a good time to increase one’s vocabulary (ch 2, p. 15). She has thirty dictionaries in her room, and one large one that has so many words it has to be in two volumes.
When Nick asks where the words in the huge dictionary comes from, Mrs. Granger asks him to look it up and report back to the class. When Nick gives his report, she seems friendly, “in a teacher-y kind of way” (ch 5, p. 25). Nick’s report goes on for over twenty minutes, but Mrs. Granger isn’t mad. She acts as if he is the “teacher’s-pet” instead, and not only does she still give a homework assignment, she also jams the whole period’s work into the last 8 minutes.
When Nick begins calling his pen a “frindle,” Mrs. Granger does not react at first. Then she decides that he is resisting her authority, and forbids the word. She even sends the principal to his house to tell his parents he has no respect for the English language, or authority. Nick explains to his parents that he cannot control the monster he has created.
It’s a real word now. It used to be mine, but not anymore. If I knew how to stop it, I think I probably would. But I can’t.” (ch 9, p. 55)
Soon, everyone in the town is using the word and the media gets wind. Nick tells a reporter that words “mean what they mean because we say they do” (ch 12, p. 70). The national media finds out, and Nick goes on talk shows. Nick even sells the word. However, Nick stops being innovative. He stops sharing his ideas, and becomes depressed. He asks Mrs. Granger for the letter she said wrote in the beginning, which she said she’d give him when it’s, and she tells him it is not over.
Ten years later, Mrs. Granger sends Nick a dictionary with the word frindle in it. She includes the letter. In it, she explains why she loves the dictionary.
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