Killing Mr. Griffin: a Character Analysis

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About this sample


Words: 643 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 643|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph
  3. Conclusion


The novel "Killing Mr. Griffin" by Lois Duncan is a compelling psychological thriller that explores the dark depths of human nature and the consequences of impulsive actions. The story revolves around a group of high school students who kidnap their strict English teacher, Mr. Griffin, as a prank, only to see their plan spiral out of control. This essay aims to analyze the key characters in the novel, shedding light on their motivations, personalities, and the transformations they undergo. By examining the protagonists and antagonists in "Killing Mr. Griffin," we can gain a deeper understanding of the novel's thematic essence and the complexities of its characters.

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Body Paragraph

The character of Susan McConnell, often referred to as Sue, serves as the novel's conscience and a representation of the moral dilemmas faced by the group. Initially, Sue is portrayed as a typical high school student who is academically inclined and somewhat introverted. Her participation in the kidnapping is driven by a desire to fit in with her peers, particularly David Ruggles, a boy she admires. Sue's transformation throughout the novel is significant; she evolves from a passive participant to a morally conflicted individual who grapples with the gravity of their actions. Her internal struggle and eventual decision to seek help highlight the theme of personal responsibility and the courage it takes to do what is right, even when pressured by peers.

David Ruggles, on the other hand, is depicted as a charismatic and intelligent student who, despite his leadership qualities, is deeply flawed. His motivation for participating in the kidnapping stems from a complex relationship with his family, particularly his deceased father, whom he idolizes. David's character arc reveals a gradual descent into moral ambiguity as he becomes increasingly involved in the group's plans. His initial reluctance gives way to a sense of entitlement and a desire to prove himself. David's ultimate realization of the consequences of their actions and his subsequent efforts to mitigate the damage underscore the novel's exploration of guilt and redemption.

Mark Kinney, the mastermind behind the kidnapping, is perhaps the most enigmatic and sinister character in the novel. Mark's charm and manipulative nature make him a natural leader, but his lack of empathy and moral compass set him apart from the other characters. His motivations are rooted in a deep-seated resentment towards authority figures and a desire for control. Mark's character remains relatively static throughout the novel, as he consistently exhibits sociopathic tendencies. His ability to manipulate his peers and remain detached from the consequences of their actions underscores the theme of the corrupting influence of power and the dangers of unchecked ambition.

Mr. Griffin, the titular character, is portrayed as a strict and demanding teacher whose high standards and no-nonsense approach make him a target for the students' ire. However, as the novel progresses, it becomes clear that Mr. Griffin's intentions are rooted in a genuine desire to see his students succeed. His character serves as a catalyst for the events that unfold, and his unwavering principles stand in stark contrast to the moral ambiguity of the students. Mr. Griffin's tragic fate highlights the novel's exploration of the unintended consequences of seemingly harmless actions and the impact of authority figures on young minds.

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In conclusion, "Killing Mr. Griffin" offers a profound exploration of the complexities of human nature through its multifaceted characters. Susan McConnell's journey from a passive participant to a morally conscious individual, David Ruggles' struggle with his sense of self and guilt, Mark Kinney's embodiment of manipulation and ambition, and Mr. Griffin's role as an authoritative yet well-intentioned figure collectively illustrate the novel's themes of personal responsibility, the corrupting influence of power, and the far-reaching consequences of impulsive actions. By delving into the character dynamics in "Killing Mr. Griffin," readers are encouraged to reflect on the intricacies of moral choices and the profound impact they can have on individuals and their communities.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Killing Mr. Griffin: A Character Analysis. (2024, Jun 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 21, 2024, from
“Killing Mr. Griffin: A Character Analysis.” GradesFixer, 12 Jun. 2024,
Killing Mr. Griffin: A Character Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Jul. 2024].
Killing Mr. Griffin: A Character Analysis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 12 [cited 2024 Jul 21]. Available from:
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