Frindle Questions and Answers
by Andrew Clements

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What is the theme of Frindle?  

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One possible theme you might like to consider is how meanings become attached to words. As the events of Frindle remind us, words derive their meaning from how they're used and not through the kind of formal definition one might find in a dictionary.

In the story, "Frindle" comes to mean "pen" because that's how Nick and his friends use the word. They didn't look up the word in a dictionary before beginning to use it. Dictionaries reflect language usage, not the other way round. If you look at a dictionary and compare it with one written a hundred years ago, you'll notice how many new words have since entered the English language. This is because language changes over time, and it changes because we as humans change and we need to find new words to reflect the many different ways that we change.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are several themes in Clements' work.  In my mind, I think that most overwhelming theme is the relationship between language and power.  Nick and Mrs. Granger have a battle which is constructed over the use and application of language.  In the final analysis, the power struggle between both is rooted in the control of language.  When Nick tries to get underneath her skin, Mrs. Granger gives the assignment of examining word roots in the dictionary.  This act reflects her control over language, and in the process, her power over Nick.  Once he invents the word "Frindle," he begins to assert his power over her and the society at large through the control of language.  The idea of being able to control language and assert power through it is a theme of Clements' work.

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