Tommy defends Miss Ferenczi because she is so much more interesting than other adults.
In the story “Gryphon,” Baxter shares with us how fourth grader Tommy has new worlds opened up to him by an eccentric substitute teacher named Miss Ferenczi. In the small town of Five Oaks, life is very boring for Tommy. He likes Miss Ferenczi because she is unusual.
Tommy likes Miss Ferenczi because his own mother does not have time for him. The narrator is an adult Tommy, grown up and looking back. You can tell this from the way he talks.
This time there was no pretense of doing a reading lesson or moving on to arithmetic.
Tommy’s world is turned upside down when Miss Ferenczi introduces the class to “substitute facts,” tells their fortunes, and regales them with wonderful stories about mythical creatures. When she predicts an early death for Wayne, he tells the principal. Tommy is angry. He does not want to give up the fantasy.
“She was right... She was always right! She told the truth!”
The story’s main lesson is that we must ultimately all give up the trappings of childhood to become adults. The story is about a simple little town, with average teachers and average students. Tommy wants more. He wants to see magic in the world around him. He wants to believe. This is why he defends Miss Ferenczi to the other students.
Baxter shares a coming of age story that we have all experienced, about being just a little different. Miss Ferenczi is not afraid to be different. She does not try to fit in, and in fact she encourages the students to do the same. Some of them, like Tommy, are open to this. However others see it as frightening. They are used to fitting into the world a certain way.