What function does Miss Brill's fur play in the story and can it be called a character?

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Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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No, I do not think we can accurately call Miss Brill's fur a character, but it is a symbol.  A symbol is something that has both literal and figurative meaning: there is actually a fox fur that exists on a literal, physical, level, but it also represents Miss Brill in a figurative way.   

She had taken it out of its box that afternoon, shaken out the moth-powder, given it a good brush, and rubbed the life back into the dim little eyes.  "What has been happening to me?" said the sad little eyes.

It lives in a little box, just like Miss Brill does.  Like her, it seems a bit dusty and old, and...

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epollock | Student

dannielly,

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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