Education, Imagination, and Social Norms in 'Gryphon'

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 440 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 8, 2024

Words: 440|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 8, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Education
  2. Imagination
  3. Social Norms

Charles Baxter's short story "Gryphon" tells the tale of a substitute teacher, Miss Ferenczi, who teaches a creative writing class to a group of fourth-graders in a small town in Michigan. The story focuses on the interactions between Miss Ferenczi and her students, as well as the reactions of the townspeople to her unorthodox teaching methods. Through the characters and events of "Gryphon," Baxter explores themes of education, imagination, and social norms.

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One of the central themes of "Gryphon" is education. Specifically, the story examines the question of what education is meant to accomplish. Baxter contrasts two competing views of education through the characters of Miss Ferenczi and the school principal, Mr. Hibler. Mr. Hibler represents the traditional view of education as a means of conveying established facts and information to students. He is concerned with maintaining order and discipline in the classroom. Miss Ferenczi, on the other hand, sees education as a way to encourage creativity and independent thinking in her students. She is much less concerned with maintaining order, and instead encourages her students to think for themselves and explore their own imaginations. The conflict between these two views of education is at the heart of the story.


Another major theme of "Gryphon" is imagination. Miss Ferenczi encourages her students to use their imaginations in their writing assignments. She tells them stories about fantastical creatures and encourages them to write their own stories about such creatures. This is in contrast to the usual school assignments, which tend to be more prosaic and focused on established facts. Through Miss Ferenczi's teaching, Baxter suggests that imagination is a valuable tool for learning and personal growth. Furthermore, the story suggests that imagination is in danger of being stifled by the demands of the educational system and social norms.

Social Norms

A third theme of "Gryphon" is social norms. Throughout the story, there are frequent references to what is considered normal or acceptable behavior within the community. Miss Ferenczi is seen as an outsider because of her unorthodox teaching methods and her tendency to tell tall tales. The townspeople are suspicious of her and view her as a threat to the stability of the community. This tension between social norms and individuality is at the heart of the conflict in the story.

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Overall, "Gryphon" is a thought-provoking story that raises important questions about education, imagination, and social norms. Through the characters and events of the story, Baxter explores these themes in depth and shows how they are interconnected. Ultimately, the story suggests that education should be a tool for encouraging creativity and independent thinking, and that social norms should not be allowed to stifle individuality and imagination.

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Education, Imagination, and Social Norms in ‘Gryphon’. (2024, March 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
“Education, Imagination, and Social Norms in ‘Gryphon’.” GradesFixer, 07 Mar. 2024,
Education, Imagination, and Social Norms in ‘Gryphon’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Jun. 2024].
Education, Imagination, and Social Norms in ‘Gryphon’ [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 07 [cited 2024 Jun 21]. Available from:
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